Monday, February 20, 2017

like riding a bicycle

Guys. It's happening. Charlie is actually honest to god figuring it out and is remembering his lessons from one week to the next! I probably sound like a broken record but each time I jump this horse, the idea of eventually eventing him feels more and more real, more tangible!

best canter evar ;)
Today's post is kinda a two-parter, as we started the day at OF with another round of free jumping, since Charlie could frankly use all the help he can get in that department. We then did a more traditional (albeit shortened) riding lesson immediately after.

I could probably split each component into separate posts.... but for the purposes of documenting the training process, the two are inextricably linked. Free jumping this horse is having exactly the impact on his development we had hoped, and it's already showing!

he hung out alllll by his self at the trailer for maybe ~5-10min for the first time too. didn't notice. good boy.
Right away, too, Charlie showed improvement from last week. He clearly remembered the exercise and was prepared to exert a little more effort and be a little more forward.

cherry-picked moment #1
Obviously that's not to say it was totally without blooper moments bc... well. It's Charlie and he's big and awkward and apparently kinda lazy. But in a smart-lazy kinda way where you can see him exploring every possible alternative method to jumping haha.

cherry-picked moment #2. if it happened twice it can't be just a fluke, right??
Really tho I was quite pleased with him. We got him built up pretty quickly to where we left off last week: ground pole to cavaletti to small oxer. He made nice work of that a few times (and less nice work a couple times too haha), then we reconfigured to three low cavaletti in a row.

exhausted from the exertion. 
With plenty of encouragement from the ground crew (free jumping this horse is apparently a team effort lol) he made it through respectably a couple times and we opted to finish on that. Good boy!

my favorite part of this video is when trainer P yells "Leg!" as Charlie goes through the grid.... obviously the teacher's reflex is strong haha

Obviously again there's nothing ground breaking here. He's still often awkward and stilted haha. But the moments when he does just canter on through feel promising.

And I was quite pleased to see a few instances where things weren't quite perfect but Charlie could recognize and adjust accordingly, instead of just crashing into the pole (except for that one time, oops). Baby steps y'all!

a tale of two personalities haha. charlie is snoozing and bella reeeeeeeally wants to know what i'm up to
Then I popped his bridle on, hopped aboard, and we moved outside for the piggy-backed component of ridden jumps. Obviously the horses were already 'warmed up' but we still went through the routine of a little flat work anyway. Practice practice and such.

Plus it was trainer P's first time seeing Charlie go since the seismic shift following switching to the new girth and spurs.

Bella continues to shine too!
It really is an impressive difference in the horse. There was absolutely no dinosaur getting stuck in tar pits. Even when I had to remind Charlie a couple times for more trot. And Charlie has been striking off simply and drama-free onto both leads - and will now execute a totally pleasant jumper-worthy simple change.

friends!!! and a dog that i totally promise isn't actually dead!!
Now I'm not saying the dinosaur is totally extinct -- but as trainer P said, now we know how Charlie is gonna react when something is buggin him. It might not always be the girth. But that's his 'tell.' For now tho we appear to have smooth sailing, yay! 

d'aww good pony!! still so awkward even when he 'nails' it haha
Anyway after a brief workout in trot and canter, we quickly moved on to hopping over little fences!! Alas not a ton of videos bc Brita and I were often working over our own fences simultaneously (it was just the two of us riding). But the two jumps she did catch were fairly representative of the whole ride.

i'm somewhat hilariously left behind Charlie's huge effort at a gappy distance.... but am absolutely loving every second
Charlie had moments of absolute brilliance (or as brilliant as you can be over 2' haha) where he easily and comfortably found the jumps. He jumped from and landed on both leads about equally and even executed a couple changes over the fences.

He also had a couple "Oh Shit" or "WTF" moments too - and we both played a role in some misses (like when I was completely left behind at the above jump lol).


But he didn't touch a single pole and he jumped everything. He rode forward and carried me to each fence (we jumped a number of different verticals and oxers plus the one in the video). And cantering the jumps is a thing we can reliably do now.

Meanwhile I just kinda sat there and let him do his thing, while keeping my left hand hooked on to the neck strap like it was my job (just don't ask what my right hand was doing bc I promise I don't know haha). And that's basically exactly what it looks like: essentially, not much. He's still awkward and I'm still just clinging to his back like a passenger while he works it out.

turned out with no blankets - it's a miracle!
But it's pretty freaking exciting to me, especially knowing that the above ride was Charlie's 5 month anniversary of becoming an event-horse-in-training. Catching up on the timeline: Charlie's final race: Aug 9; First ride Sept 18; First jump lesson Nov 5.

He's had 7 total jump lessons, 2 free jump schools, and 5 dressage lessons. Not a ton in the grand scheme of things, but we've made the most of them and have worked hard on our homework while schooling in between lessons.

The timing of everything just feels really good. Spring is coming. Charlie is getting more and more sound through his body and feet. And he is slowly but surely learning his job. So maybe, just maybe, we may actually put together some semblance of a show season. After the disaster that was 2016's season, I'm pretty excited by the prospect!

44 comments:

  1. What a good boy- you can really seem him thinking through the jump chute and when he stopped it was like 'oh oh I'm stuck'. He's so adorable.

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    1. ha he's pretty cute ;) the stop was maybe partly also testing whether he could just opt out of the exercise altogether haha. he's definitely thinking in all directions!!

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  2. This is fabulous! Just the thing to read on a Monday morning! So very happy that the big boy is feeling good and learning his job :) And that you are having fun with him!

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    1. aw thanks! i'm definitely having a blast! he's mostly pretty easy but he's definitely gonna keep me on my toes all the same! i like it!

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  3. Hey, even if they're cherry picked, they show definite improvement! It's awesome that he's catching on so quickly! Sunday I had a make-up lesson (Thursdays are normally lesson but it was miserable and cold so we took a pass) involving trot fences to 3' (OMG SO SCARY but lesson pony Nonners was fine with it and eventually so was I) and then went home and clipped da Bird (neck and chest, he looks motheaten but it's for cooling and not for looks) and took him for six and a half miles of spin at a 4.38 mph pace. Saw our first Harley with ape hangers. He was not impressed but we had a lot of room to work out our issues on the shoulder so it was fine, really.

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    1. ha yea i'm all about finding the little "moments" where things come together, even if they're cherry picked and fleeting - bc the moments show that it IS actually happening. and ideally, the moments will happen more often and last longer as we keep progressing ;) exciting that Bird is having his own moments of progress on the scary road!

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  4. He is such a good boy and I love how he thinks and learns. You can tell he lets things sink in.

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    1. he's definitely a great learner - and definitely not dumb!! this will hopefully be a huge asset in working with him so long as i can avoid teaching him the wrong things too haha

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  5. YOUR SMILE in that last jump pic though!! I have a feeling that once Charlie takes his time to really understand this game, he's gonna be unstoppable!

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    1. ha i sure hope so!! (tho i hope our brakes at least keep developing too so that we don't actually literally become unstoppable bc.... yikes lol!)

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  6. Oh my goodness! Love everything about this post. You and Charlie were having so much fun!!! It was awesome to watch and see you guys click!

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    1. aw thanks! it was such a fun lesson - and great watching Bella do so well too!! yay ponies :D

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  7. I love that no matter what you're doing with this horse you're having so much fun. That's a sure sign of a great partnership. Future looks brighter and brighter for your goals as he's suddenly figuring it all out, too! I'm so happy for you.

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    1. ha thanks! i'm definitely trying to enjoy every moment and every step in the journey - bc we all know that it won't always gonna be kittens and rainbows haha.

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  8. Everything the big guy does is just so adorable. What a great horse to work with--so many challenges for you to work through but a horse with a great heart trying his best.

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    1. lol definitely a TON of challenges - but agreed, even when he's not necessarily convinced he needs to exert as much effort as we might wish, he does aim to please!!

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  9. Yay!!!! Go Emma and Charlie!! So fun to read on a Monday morning.

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    1. ha thanks! i always kinda love having a great lesson over the weekend to help keep me going through the week ;)

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  10. Love seeing Charlie work it out! So happy for these improvements for both of you. Looks so fun

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    1. he really is a lot of fun to watch as he processes. he's so quiet and reserved and still all the time that it would be easy to think that he's kinda 'not there.' but he's paying attention to *everything*, constantly observing

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  11. Aw I just love that when Charlie is confused, he defaults to "let's slow down and think this through" instead of DANGER WILL ROBINSON NEEEROOOOOOOOM. Not that I would know anything about that... lol. So fun to watch you guys develop together! :-)

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    1. omg i definitely appreciate his slow thoughtfulness. like sometimes the alternative is easier... but i think, for me personally, in the long run i appreciate that he's a thinking horse. i just have to remember to give him that time and opportunity to process!

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  12. Yay Charles! It's so exciting to see him learning - you can see it even in the screen shots too, honestly. What a clever boy. (And like, are we even SUPPOSED to keep track of what our right hands are doing? Because I certainly don't.)

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    1. omg my damn right hand.... i keep telling myself that i only hold the neck strap with the left hand bc he drifts left so i need that right hand to be free to operate. but.... i also know that i'm a crooked rider and carry more weight down through my right seat and leg, thus pushing the horse left (and probably accounting for the drift bc, erm, it's basically the same drift that i always had with izzy) and my right hand is meanwhile out in no man's land pinwheeling around trying to single-handedly (ha puns) fix what's actually a systemic issue.... le sigh. riding is hard yo.

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  13. Way to go, Charlie! It's exciting to see progress and feel like your horse is learning!

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    1. ha seriously! it's great to feel like he's learning - tho now i kinda feel like i have to start keeping up with him haha

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  14. So impressed with your progress, and I continue to be so happy for you!

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  15. His free jump video this time is so much better than the last one, he really is learning. Congrats! You look like you are having a lot of fun in the 2nd video.

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    1. ha yea omg he was so much better this week lol. it's reassuring!

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  16. He's so freaking adorable! So happy that things are starting to stick week-to-week and improve!

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  17. Freejumping is so beneficial for some of them. I think sometimes they just need the human element taken out of it to simplify everything and let them concentrate on what to do with their body. Looks like it's clicking for Charlie!

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    1. definitely agreed. tho it's funny, he doesn't quite seem to understand that he still has to 'go' without a rider lol, whereas when i'm riding him he just cruises right around. but generally speaking, the free jumping has done loads for him so far!

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  18. Go Chuckles! I'm so excited for you guys. It's so much fun as they figure it out.

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    1. so much fun! and also so reassuring haha, bc i would seriously appreciate not dying trying to jump this horse over cavaletti lol

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  19. oh my bloody god charlie, you're like 80 feet tall just move your legs a LITTLE

    he looks way more coordinated than last time, these free jump lessons are great. and when he finally realizes he cant phone it in he's going to be a phenom jumper :P

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  20. How lovely! Yay for lessons adding together and consistency! Happy for you!

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  21. His jump chute actions are my favorite. Also, who saw him and was like "YES-THIS IS A RACEHORSE!" because he seems far to interesting in snoozing versus running, lol. And I mean that in a compliment!

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  22. Oh man he is looking so awesome (around the awkward obviously lol but even the awkward is less frequent)! I think the way you're approaching it is really smart with letting him kinda work things out himself. I need to do a post that expands on it maybe, but I recently had a trainer explain to me that you're better off letting things happen as they happen so the horse gains confidence in himself rather than making things perfect every time, because then the horse doesn't believe they can/know how to get out of a mess. It made a lot of sense, and seems like it's definitely working for Charlie!

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  23. Yay Charlie!! I'm so excited for you.

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