Friday, March 31, 2017

experimenting: bit edition

In a lot of ways, it feels like Brita and I swapped horses in our new equestrian partners.

Brita's former lease horse, Wick, was a stakes winning war horse who came to her with very little training post-track. He was very good natured, but uneducated to the point of actually seeming dull, especially with respect to contact.

Meanwhile, my former lease horse, Isabel, had solid training in the most fundamental of ways, but was unfinished with very limited mileage. She was sensitive and hot to the touch, but loaded with talent, athleticism and oomph, if you could just figure out how to channel it.

oomph, charlie. give me your OOMPH.
So now Brita has Bella, and I have Charlie. And the cycle continues. In many ways tho, we've been able to reassure each other through each of our respective new mounts' phases. (Who remembers Wick learning how to jump?!? Brita has been quick to reassure and remind me as Charlie learns now haha)

Most recently, we discussed Charlie's dressage test on the way home from Loch Moy. I expressed how working on submission and acceptance of the contact would be Charlie's next big hurdle. We've made significant progress already - he's not nearly as heavy on my hands as he started. There's a much steadier softness.

But.... He's still very much *on* my hands, rather than *in* my hands, if that makes sense. And let's be real - he's a racehorse. As far as he knows, he's supposed to lean in on the bit.

myler something or other
Brita therefore encouraged me to try a bit she used with Wick during the early days. Not a permanent solution, but rather a tool for breaking through that barrier, breaking through the cycle of leaning and pulling, to change the conversation so Wick started actually thinking more deeply about what, exactly, was in his mouth, and why.

at least the cheek pieces make us fit in a little better in hunterlandia, even if the beaded browband is a dead giveaway that we're impostors haha
Personally I tend to be resistant to this type of experimentation, and border on change-averse unless the idea comes directly from the mouth of one of my chosen, paid trainers. I've stuck with the same tried-n-true Sprenger KK snaffles for years now. Charlie actually goes in exactly the same bit as Isabel on his jump bridle, tho I replaced his dressage bit with a big fat heavy silver eggbutt snaffle at the recommendation of a favorite clinician.

But I opted to give it a try anyway. Shits and giggles and such. And I don't call Brita my life coach for nothin!

"no pictures. just feelings. so many feelings."
So I figured I'd write a little rundown of what this bit did that was different in our first ride:
  • The bit took Charlie entirely off my hands. No leaning at all.
  • Charlie put his head down, tho sometimes this involved curling behind the bit.
  • His trot was quite good. Not the best it's ever been, but quiiiite good.
  • Canter was GREAT. 
  • Transitions were spot on. Up and down, walk trot canter, lovely lovely lovely. We practiced the 20m circle of transitioning up into, then back down out of canter from Intro C (something I've long felt would be a challenge for Charlie) and he was excellent.
  • Steering was a little worse, esp that damn right turn. 
  • Gate sourness was amplified, increasingly so as the ride wore on.
  • The horse was a bit stuck behind my leg.
  • Charlie was stressed the fuck out. 
  • I did not feel like I could push him up into the bit at all, lest I risk an explosion (and not a dinosaur-stuck-in-tar-pit tantrum, but an actual honest to god "HELP I'M TRAPPED" explosion).
  • Similarly, I was not able to 'push the contact forward' - he was very much behind my hand, not at all "in the bridle."

relieved it's over
Honestly? It was fascinating.

I tried very hard to be tactful and thoughtful with how I asked him to handle the bit. Tried to be simultaneously very steady but sympathetic and forgiving with my hands. Not the easiest thing for me, but I tried.

Mostly I wanted to give the horse time to sort it out and process what was going on, including through walk breaks and occasional application of peppermints to get him licking and chewing on the bit.

From the perspective of getting Charlie to recognize the bit as an actual piece of equipment that is intended to improve our communication? I'm intrigued to see what difference this bit could make. However, with Charlie in particular, I'm very uncomfortable with the idea of spending any serious time schooling when he's behind my leg like that, especially if I can't push him forward into the bit. That is a recipe for disaster with this horse (actually, maybe most horses?).

so handsome tho <3
It also felt like we were rapidly reaching his maximum brain capacity. For a quiet horse, he really is very sensitive and can become tense or overwhelmed by pressure (it just happens to be quite easy to miss if you're not paying attention). He gave me a very good, obedient ride, but I still cut it short bc I could feel the quarter running out.

So my very tentative plan is to switch immediately back to the snaffle for the next few rides. Paying close attention to whether I can access some of the 'give' he had with the myler. And then potentially trying the myler again for another one-off ride.

The idea is: Charlie showed improvements in some areas while actively wearing this bit. I will want to test to see if those improvements hold when we switch back to our normal bit. If that's the case, then we may choose to intermittently school with this bit to continue developing those improvements. However if there is no difference shown without using this bit, or, god forbid, if things get worse, then we'll ditch it altogether.

We'll see, I guess. It was honestly an incredible difference, esp compared to the difference Charlie showed in switching into the fat eggbutt (read: no difference shown). It definitely makes me feel more thoughtful about some of the stronger bits out there, and the importance of bitting with care for each individual horse's needs.

Of course I know a TON of you have had to experiment with bits, whether from picky horses or for training reasons. Have you had any extreme experiences with bit experimentation? Or any lessons learned? Or are you similarly change-averse like me, sticking with your one or two favorites no matter the horse?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

first grade: a jumping lesson

It's no secret that I had a lot of nerves going into last weekend's event at Loch Moy.

Some nerves were due to very specific (and imo, reasonable) concerns, like would Charlie cope well with the atmosphere of an event with 275+ entries? Others were more amorphous and vague, having little to do with the horse himself, and none at all with our chosen level.

<3 this canter always. also i kinda appreciate that this pic almost makes the horse look kinda stout haha
Charlie is not a scary horse, and there's nothing about an 18" fence that should realistically worry me, right? I mean, for fuck's sake, even *I*, on my own feet, can handily tackle an 18" fence and nobody's ever confused me as particularly coordinated or athletic haha. So why the nerves?

suddenly charlie is a pro at trot fences. who knew?
Idk, honestly. I think it's the same shit that ebbs and flows for lots of us and seemingly only gets worse with age. In my particular case, I think the nerves have been compounded by the negative downward spiral with Isabel, followed by a couple emotionally and physically painful riding accidents last summer as I tried to keep riding at the same level on new and unfamiliar horses.

And the more mistakes I made, the less I trusted myself. So now I'm kinda in this place where I'm not so sure I should be pushing certain boundaries without supervision. It's self-fulfilling too, bc even when I make myself go forth and Do The Thing, I'm not always fully committed so then I make more mistakes and then feel even less convinced that it was actually a good idea in the first place.

big guy will GO tho if i goose him haha
The problem here, tho, is that in the last couple weeks we missed a couple jump lessons. Trainer P had also encouraged me to keep the horse jumping in between lessons anyway, now that he's starting to figure it out. She said even if it's just bopping around over 5 jumps at the end of the ride, keep it up to keep him thinking about it.

somehow couldn't quite find a good distance to this jump, but big guy made it work anyway
So I dutifully set up little cross rails (and one night actually pulled on my big girl pants and put a vertical or two in the mix as well) and made myself school my horse over tiny fences. Replete with pulling to the fences, power steering failures (one of which resulted in another runout, fml), dismounting to reset all our knock downs repeatedly (damn this horse needs a jump crew tho!), but still forcing myself to be brave and actually canter a damn fence for the love of god....

locked and loaded!
None of these schools were actually totally disastrous... Probably not even close at all. But none of them left me glowing with pride either. And I couldn't make myself set the jumps up to the size I know we should be practicing over. And I wouldn't set up an oxer, even tho Charlie jumps those WAY better than he jumps cross rails or verticals.

Idk. It's like every time something went a even little bit wrong, I immediately felt like "See, this is why I shouldn't be doing this - I knew this was a bad idea!" Which is totally bogus, but the mind can be a very unkind thing sometimes.

we biffed this one a few times too bc turning right is hard. finally got it sorted tho
So when we finally made it in for our weekly jump lesson the day before Loch Moy, I told trainer P in no uncertain terms: "I need a confidence-building ride." And, bless her, she delivered.

We intentionally kept things very light (it was hot out ugh) but purposeful. She didn't mess around with the "tiny" stuff (bunny ears absolutely relative here bc our "big" is .... well, you know haha) and quickly got us figure-8ing around an outside line to warm up before going down the line and then putting a course (Charlie's first!) together.

The warm up jumps went well enough that I only half-jokingly proclaimed, "We're done!" after cantering our first fence (in the video lol).

unimpressed horse is becoming quite fun to ride!
For the 'course' itself, trainer P kept it vanilla plain: inside single, outside line, inside single, outside line. Charlie's first real course! Honestly I thought the oxers looked too big - but this is why I ride with trainers I trust. I'd NEVER set that oxer up for myself right now, but if trainer P says 'do it,' you better believe I'm doin it! Plus, Charlie can trot them in his sleep haha.

Anyway tho we kinda biffed the course the first time through bc I kicked for a leaper at the first oxer and we never quite recovered our balance through the next 5 fences (tho we did get an auto lead change haha, #winning?). In a sense, I was proud of myself for actually committing and making a decision that wasn't "zomg better pull more!" On the other hand tho, it totally threw Charlie off his rhythm. Oops. Useful lesson to learn, tho.

pony can be cute when he feels like it!
We went through again, tho, this time trotting into the first oxer. And Charlie landed in the most perfect, easy rhythmic (dare I say hunter-esque?) canter that he happily maintained all by himself while I kinda just sat up atop him drooling like an idiot.

We biffed the next line bc I still don't know how to turn this horse right (it's a struggle, yo), but then the rest of the course was perfect (including an easy-as-pie simple change!!) - esp when I allowed him to get the correct striding down the other outside without goosing him. And trainer P had us go back and fix the first line right away, which flowed equally well (even if the turn was still slightly suspect).

I obviously still have a lot of work to do as a rider.... But the horse hardly seems to notice lol. He just keeps on truckin around. And rides like this do so much to help further dispel my nervous energy and give me the confidence I need to keep trusting the horse and committing to riding him forward.

Bc it's getting kinda obvious that Charlie is progressing in the jumping department a little faster than I am haha.... I gotta keep up with him! Have you ever felt that way with your horse? Like you were the one slowing down progress? Or have you ever felt like certain exercises were off-limits outside of lessons bc you were afraid of messing up?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

MDHT Spring Starter #1: Intro Combined Test

Ok folks - let's get on with recapping Charlie's official eventing debut! I've got absolute mountains of media, but made the executive decision to pull everything into a single mega post. Bc let's be real. It's a walk-trot dressage test and itsy bitsy stadium jumps. That's not an awful lot of content to spread over two days haha.


all my gratitude goes to Liz, who captured this shot of pure, unadulterated 12yo girlhood joy after we finished stadium 
Seriously, thank you so much, Liz for taking so many excellent photographs, and for taking video of our stadium round! And thanks Austen for shooting our dressage test too! The difference in quality from my standard fare is quite apparent in this post haha (watermarked photos = quality; non watermarked = crappy video stills haha), so hopefully you readers will get to enjoy the added quality in resolution too lol.

<3 this horse. also the homemade stock tie held it's own!! 
Anyway tho. Let's talk details. Like I wrote yesterday, we arrived on the show grounds with just enough time to immediately start tacking and hustle over to warm up. Alas this meant Charlie's mane went unbrushed (Brita went after his body, hooves, legs and tail while I dressed, and I didn't notice the mane until I saw the photographs, sadface) but otherwise I felt like he pulled together for a very nice picture.

(except I'm honestly quite ashamed of how thin he is and wish I could run up to anybody who noticed and grab them by the shoulders, saying "I Promise We're Working On It!"... but oh well. it is what it is for now.)

yup. dis how we trot. i'm cool with it.
My plan for warm up was basically to walk forever. And this got an immediate boost from the steward who let me know things were running about 10min behind schedule. Yas.

Charlie had been fine getting off the trailer (tho I hand walked a couple laps anyway). Fine to tie and tack up. Fine to mount up over by the office. And fine to navigate the bustling path between the two giant arenas filled with five dressage courts and seas of horses. So naturally he was also fine in the warm up ring traffic. Good boy.

not bothered at all by traffic in warm up
A couple other horses in the ring were acting up a bit (spring sillies, no doubt) and Charlie was a little distracted with looking every which way. But as the minutes wore on, I slowly picked up my reins and started explaining to him that looking outside the arena would be increasingly discouraged. He complied. Gooood boy.

So we walked and walked. Then eventually trotted. Then transitions between walk and trot. Then canter, then trot, then canter. Then walk. Then halt. Then trot. Then halt. Etc etc etc. You know the deal. And the horse was fine. So fine that I volunteered to go early. We were ready.

dis how we trot inside the ring too. points for consistency?
I didn't push him quite as forward as I do in lessons with dressage trainer C bc the judge at our last dressage show called me out for speeding. So instead I worked on pushing him out with my inside leg and trying to create engagement that way. And I think this approach produced a nicer trot for the purposes of a show, and we'll save the rest for schooling.

he's got the 'stretch' part of the freewalk down pat. now to add swing and overstep. 
Honestly I think the judge really liked what she saw. The scores are quite generous in places but the whole test flowed so smoothly. No shining moments of brilliance, but also no movements that stuck out like a sore thumb. 

And therefore our movements were all scored 6s and 7s, except for the aces up our sleeve: the centerline turns and halts we had just practiced with trainer C last week. The first got an 8 and the second got a 9. Yassssss. Thank you C!!

pictured: riding the snot out of that centerline turn on a giant horse who struggles turning right.
boom. fucking NINE.
Our collective scores were more of a mixed bag. Again, I think this judge liked the test itself - but she also identified two major areas of weakness and dinged us hard for them in the collectives, tho not at all unfairly. We scored 5s on submission (the x2 coefficient at this level, ouch) and accuracy. She noted: Charlie "objects to rider picking up contact" and my circles were too small (again, ugh).

"very straight, lovely halt"
I think the accuracy thing is actually a symptom of the contact issue. Charlie does not accept the bit yet, nor yield or give to that pressure. And bc he doesn't give to the bit, I struggle with pushing him fully into the outside rein to bend around my inside leg - so we fall inward if I try for anything that approximates inside bend. Thus the too-small circles and too-shallow turns.

It's happening tho. I was actually thrilled with this test bc while he doesn't give to the bit, he was neither leaning heavily or fully braced against my hand (relatively speaking). He had a consistent softness to the bit that may be an intermediary step between the 'lean against' and the 'give to.'

video here, complete with notated movements, scores and comments

We left the arena feeling like I couldn't possibly have asked for any better of Charlie at this point in his training. He just... ya know.... did the thing. Even nitpicking my own riding, I can identify some weak spots but generally feel like I also did the thing, did what I set out to do.

Oh. And Charlie scored an 8 on his gaits. An EIGHT. Considering he's a fairly high-mileage horse who had varying degrees of lamenesses in various legs when I bought him, that feels GOOD.

The test put us in 3rd after dressage with a score of 34.4%, just 2 percentage points and change between us and first place. I didn't see the score until after jumping but was just thrilled. While it means Charlie lost his "undefeated" status (lol) - it's still our best yet score for this test, which we've now ridden five times.

warming up on uneven ground as if he hadn't struggled with going down hills just three months ago
And the judge's feedback is helpful. The submission thing really is our next big issue, I think (if we were full time students of Stephen Birchall, it would have been issue #1, instead of coming second after trainer C's focus on forward and hind end activity). Bc it crops up in our jumping too - especially in steering haha.

Anyway tho, no rest for the weary. We had an hour and a half before stadium that went by in a flash - then it was off to warm up over fences! The warm up area for intro & elem (which have their own jump and xc courses separate from the rest of the divisions so that they can run simultaneously) was actually located in a roped off area of the xc course instead of in a ring.

careful pony left me in the dust in warm up. i can live with it!
This felt.... challenging to me haha, seeing as Charlie has very limited experience actually working on terrain (vs hacking around, which even then we've only done a little bit). And we've never jumped on uneven ground before. No time like the present, I guess!

"look ma, i can canter on a hillside!!" - best pony ever
Charlie warmed up like a star tho. Found a reasonable balance trotting and cantering up and down the hillside, tho it took a couple tries to get the correct lead (in both directions, embarrassing lol). And he wasn't at all distracted by horses outside our area after taking a couple looksies during our first laps spent walking.

aaaand a little more unity between horse and rider haha, but still givin that jump plenty of space!
And the jumping? Honestly? Perfect. Trainer P wasn't on hand to coach (her ride times were much later in the day), but she had advised me to keep it short but purposeful. Probably a little more than what I did for Isabel, but not much.

tidy tidy! all i gotta do is basically hang on and stay with him lol
So we trotted each jump once (often coming back to walk after, to help Charlie continue landing quietly). Trotted the oxer a second time bc we knocked it down once - just an honest mistake. Charlie was kinda launching up over the fences, I think bc it felt so unfamiliar jumping on grass. But he was super honest and SUPER game. We chilled for a bit longer, then cantered the vertical before following another rider over to the arena.

jump 1 and it is ON
also that's only one of three massive trailer parking areas. twas a big show!
Charlie got to watch one rider go (during which I learned my course and made a plan for striding in the one related distance) then it was our turn!

the quintessential Loch Moy picture, with Sugarloaf Mountain and a writhing sea of dressage riders as a backdrop
It's a bit unfair publishing this post before writing about our jump lesson the day before the show (coming soon!) bc my strategy was totally informed by how he had jumped in the lesson. But I can fill you in: we practiced our first ever jump course in the lesson and Charlie did great, but showed that he can get strong if I goose him.

we match the jump!
So I planned to trot most of the fences to help him understand that we can stay steady through 8 fences. And he was fine. Totally fine.

basically just an exaggerated canter stride over the maryland jump
Walked into the ring, walked down the fence line shared with dressage warm up, let Charlie see everything while we waited for the bell. Then picked up the trot for a short approach to jump 1.

"lemme at it!!" - gung ho pony!
Came back to trot for fence 2 too, then cantered on to 3. Landed on the wrong lead so came back to trot into the only line on course, cantering out in an easy seven strides. Landed on the wrong lead again and Charlie felt maybe a touch strong (tho he doesn't look it at all in the video) so I opted to trot the next fence too.

"wheeeeeee!! turning right is hard but who cares!!!!" - every ottb ever lol
Then cantered right on around to the last two - kinda hilariously failing a little bit at steering (turning right is hard, yo!). But it's funny to watch bc even as Charlie's body was drifting left he's still totally locked on to the fences. Like, there was never any question or naughtiness to the wiggles - it's literally just how his body goes even when his mind was fully focused on the fences haha.

#soproud through the finish flags
also you can tell the right turn was hard bc this might be the first picture since before breaking my leg where i'm actually sitting more left than right... crazy
The jumps themselves tho..... ahhhh so fun! This course felt like a million bucks. Every single fence felt perfect! And who doesn't love finishing on their dressage score??

Watching the video was actually a little bit of a disappointment bc it doesn't look as good as it felt.... But they're all <2' fences, with a 17h awkward greenbean bombing around like a boss without even having to try. And a rider who is basically just clinging on, trying to keep the horse pointed in more or less the right direction. It's obviously not gonna look like the grand prix haha.

I still love it tho! Especially compared to Charlie's earliest jumping efforts, it's clear how far he's come in his footwork, awareness, form, and general understanding of what this whole 'jumping' game is all about. And I think he likes it!!!!

have i mentioned lately that i <3 this horse?
He certainly likes it well enough to be forgiving of my rusty position and nerve-induced tight style of riding. Which is great bc it's probably going to take me a little while and lots of practice to loosen up and get my jumping strength back again.

brita & bella absolutely dominated the jumping phases too, and damn liz can take a nice picture!
And in the meantime I'm just having SO MUCH FUN jumping this horse (scroll back up to photograph #1 to see my exact face after finishing this course). After walking the xc course, I feel like we probably could have done a little better than just survive had I entered the full three-phase this time around, but I have no regrets sticking to the CT instead.

pictured: the visual representation of why we event. brita's and bella's expressions say it all
Emotionally, I really REALLY needed this outing and this experience. I needed to go through the motions again at a level that felt relatively easy to me and the horse (even if I still got super nervous about it all haha). Needed to feel like I knew exactly what to expect.

also pictured: someone whose inner 12yo has been let loose to play ponies with basically the best behemoth ever
Because every time Charlie blows my expectations out of the water, my confidence grows a little more. It becomes a little easier to imagine what this horse might be like when he's more trained. And I get a little more excited, and a little less guarded, about the future.

Charlie is officially assuming the mantle of being my new eventing partner! Now to actually get him properly introduced to cross country :D

Monday, March 27, 2017

MDHT: Slayer Edition

Phew, what a weekend! Lots of fun horsey stuff! Already wrote that we had a great lesson that'll get a post of it's own. And. Obvi. Charlie had his debut as an event horse at the Maryland Horse Trials at Loch Moy (even if we just did the combined test instead of the full three phases).

Much excitement!

so pleased with this guy
Brita and I were up and out of our respective doors well before dawn to get to the show, plus we had the pleasure of being joined by Austen and Liz. Alas no pics of Austen, as she had to hustle out after dressage for a family emergency ((sorry girl :( )). I was super grateful to have gotten to see her tho!

yay eventing!
We were super spoiled to have Liz around too - and I seriously can't wait til she's able to bring Grif along for the fun! Hopefully soon!!

surprise, you're on candid camera! also check out that awesome xc fence
All in all tho, show day was great. I got my rides out of the way pretty quickly (ie SUPER early in the am) then got to hang around walking xc courses, taking pictures, and spectating while friends and such went through their courses too.

why yes, i'm taking a picture of liz taking a picture of brita. and bella would very much like to know wtf i'm doing creepin in the shrubbery lol
And, man I just gotta say it feels SO GOOD to be out and about, showing with friends again. I've missed this so much. I mean, cheering friends on from the sidelines is super fun and rewarding in its own right too... but nothing quite compares to having a little skin in the game myself.

"wheeeeee cross countryyyyyy!!!" - brita, galloping away from fence 1
It's the whole spectrum of feelings, ya know? The slowly building anticipation as the day draws nearer. Then the more acute welling of nervous butterflies as you actually pull into the show grounds. It's such a visceral feeling, especially when you're just kinda stuck in the truck driving.

But then you arrive and it's an immediate rush of activity. Check in. Get your number. Go pee. Settle the horses. Brush the shavings and stray hay bits out of manes and tails. Tack up. Put on your show coat and bridle tag. Obsessively check your watch and beg time to slow down a sec. But it's TIME. Up and on the horse and off to warm up before you can think twice.

seriously. homeboy was quiet amid all the goings on. thanks sir, i'll take it!
Obviously I'll have a full recap for you soon about how Charlie's rides actually went. But bc this is the internet and we all have a deep need for instant gratification, I'll start with the end: Charlie killed it at this event.

All of that anticipation and nervous energy and excitement built up into a very sweet release - we had a BLAST.

nothing but smiles through the finish flags ;)
He acted like a legitimate seasoned veteran. Five dressage rings and two massive warm up arenas? Stadium warm up located in a roped off section of the actual xc course?? Horses going in every direction and trailers packed in like sardines? PA system and dogs and roving hordes of equestrians and trainers and supporting cast members?

Charlie observed it all quietly.

boom. killin it, charlie! also. that dressage test has a 9 on it. a NINE. way to go, big guy :D
He happily and easily rode to the fullest measure of his current level of training. Actually, maybe even a little better than that. I could not have asked for any better from him. Sure, there's always more to want from my own riding. But the horse just made me so proud.

And there turned out to be enough Intro CT entrants (seven!) that it was run and scored as a proper division. Meaning: SATIN for the big guy who finished 3rd on his dressage score of 34.4%, his best yet score on this dressage test.

Stay tuned for details soon. Happy Monday, y'all!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

ready set GO

Well. The day has come, folks. I'm finally returning to eventing after an extended hiatus following last May's ill-fated Jenny Camp HT.

Sure, we're just doing the lowest of the low, unsanctioned divisions. And ok, I'm only doing stadium and dressage (saving xc until we've actually had a chance to, ya know, school it once or twice haha).

ignore the sweaty post-lesson horse and check out how much space is still available in the fully-packed trailer!!
None of that matters to me tho. To me, all that matters is that *I* am entered in a horse trial. Again. Finally.

And bc I can't resist taking advantage of the opportunity, I'll be sure to walk a couple of the xc courses too. Intro and elementary follow around the same track so I can stalk those simultaneously to get a sense of what's coming next for Charlie.

brita's makin sure we're stocked up on all things treats (for ponies AND ppl!)
I'll probably walk Brita's BN course too, mostly for shits and giggles. And bc, dammit, I love walking xc courses. Actually the last xc course I walked was probably Amelia's last fall, when I went to watch her and Duke absolutely kill it at Loch Moy. So I'm eager to get back at it!

omg it all fits!!
Anyway tho, Brita and I had our standard jump lesson at OF yesterday, which proved to be exactly the confidence boost I needed to feel like we are as ready as we're gonna get for this little eventing debut. Details to follow soon.

Right after the lesson we did as much packing as could feasibly be done in advance. Gotta say I'm quite impressed with this Cotner trailer too. This is the first time it's been fully loaded up for a three-phase with two people and two horse, and there's definitely ample room for everything.

plus the horse too!
There are only two saddle racks, but they're spaced such that stacking two saddles on each was nbd. Plus the four bridle hooks (and extra hook rack hung by baling twine) meant that all our strap goods and extra odds and ends have homes. The wooden bench is additionally perfect for storing helmets / gloves / spurs / etc, tall boots and horse boots, plus any extra bags or whatever.

And - perhaps most importantly - all that stuff packed in there didn't infringe on Charlie's space at all. He could probably reach the saddle directly in front of him if he wanted.... but he'd basically have to be doing it on purpose. And with the double doors, we people still have an easy time moving through and around inside the trailer.

soapy sudsy ponies!
It's especially nice having almost everything already packed up in advance too, bc damn we got just about the worst ride times possible. Ugh. Lol. In fact - it's very VERY likely that by the time you read this, Charlie and I will have already finished our rides haha.

air drying with grass
It should be a good day tho. I'm honestly really looking forward to it - regardless of what happens. I mean, let's be real. It's a very green horse and a very rusty rider. We're not setting any new world records today haha.

But we WILL be having a good time. And hopefully putting on a good show while we're at it. Wish us luck!! And hope you all have a great Sunday too!