Thursday, August 31, 2017

hoof wars: the abscess strikes back!

Remember last Tuesday way back when I said Charlie had a minor abscess that took him out of the action for a couple days? But that he had come sound again? Gosh. I have such fond memories thinking back on saying those words.... lol

drinks. i need them.
Apparently the sucker just went dormant or whatever the right term is for that. Which is like, a known thing that abscesses do. Such a tricky thing tho, as it had even evaded his new farrier, who had her eye out for anything suspicious while shoeing him last Friday. Elusive sonuvagun!

flash back to better days - hacking around with Riley in her natural element
Since this is my space for documenting all things Charlie and his associated care, here's the full play-by-play of the events leading up to current time:

-    Charlie warmed up for a ride with a few very intermittent funky steps (most often while turning left). This isn't necessarily the most unusual thing in the world in a horse who had a lengthy career on the track and has had inconsistent work for the past month. We took note, kept going, and were relieved to see he improved as he went.

-    The following day, the funky steps persisted as the norm rather than the exception. And Charlie did not work out of it following a focused and purposeful warm up at trot. I called it and headed back to the barn expecting to find the horse fully crippled the next day.

-    Day 3: horse is fully crippled. Suspicions of an abscess appear confirmed. Slightly elevated digital pulse on outside of LF fetlock isolates the quarter in which we believe the abscess is brewing.

this dog actually might be a better eventer than some horses i know haha #99problemsbutaditchaintone 
-    Treatment options are limited bc Charlie was wearing full leather pads on his fronts. So we basically gave him some bute and tossed him out in the field to recover.

-     He appears to improve rapidly over the course of the next few days - culminating in a routine farrier appointment during which no signs of an abscess were detected. Sneaky little bastard, we should have known when there weren't even any tracks to be discovered!

current state: laaaame ponehhh walkin back to the barn :(. will insurance cover ichthammol ointment?? 
-    Fast forward a couple days as the horse is coming back into work. Third day in a row of working, those same intermittent funky steps are back - esp during left turns (recall, we had found signs of an abscess in the outside quarter of his LF).

-    Next day, horse comes out to work and rapidly progresses to fully crippled again after beginning to warm up. This time, the hoof itself (in that same quarter) is actually warm too. 

-    We treat with ichthammol slathered across entire coronet band, no bute this time, and toss that pony out into the field to do what he will. Timing is terrible bc I wasn't able to go see him the next day, but Trainer P offered to slap an epsom pad on him when she stopped by in the morning.

distractions :D and in case you're wondering: the left side is a super neat concept for a 6-pack cooler, it's basically just one giant zip up coozie. doesn't keep the cans super duper cold, but it's plenty sufficient for our tailgating purposes! and on the right side: the freshly bedazzled shirt that goes along with all those tutus i wrote about for an upcoming team adventure!!
Thus we arrive at the current state of things. And now we wait, I guess. I'm not overly keen on the idea of having the farrier back out to start exploring - as Charlie's very short shoeing cycle means he doesn't really have a ton of hoof to sacrifice in digging around for gold. But perhaps should we still be waiting around by tomorrow, I'll ask farrier to take another look?

me, just wonderin when my horse will be sound again....
In the grand scheme of things, an abscess isn't really a big deal. Just another notch on Charlie's belt of "dings." This horse, I swear. The title of "King of the Dings" suits him so perfectly bc he's always got some tiny little stuff going on.

So far nothing major - in the year I've owned him, we've had exactly one non-routine vet visit. And that was only bc the vet was already coming and I was panicky about cellulitis. Had the vet not already been visiting, I would have waited (per my usual habit). Considering the leg was better the next day anyway, my cellulitis fears would have been assuaged and we would've carried on sans vet. (Tho in retrospect I'm glad I called bc the splint benefited from Surpass treatments).

at least the weather is pretty?!
It's still annoying tho. Especially because the timing makes me a little uneasy. Fall season beckons!! Oh well. We will do what we can and in the meantime I'll just try not to worry about the stuff I can't control.

Surely I'm not the only one who has been sidelined by something seemingly minuscule? Or had some little pesky aggravation keep coming back and refusing to heal??? Or been down to the wire for an event, competition or other outing, with no real clear guarantee that the horse will be ready to go?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Snappy Dressing

There's been so little riding over the past month, it's felt tricky to scrape together exciting things (and pictures!!) for sharing here. But finally, finally, we're settling back into the riding routine. #feelsgoodman

this painted horse head lives on the side of a barn at OF
Which is perfect timing bc, as usual, we've got plans coming up. And not just the typical fall competition season kick off, either.

oh yea. that's exactly what you think it is. 
Oh no no, there's more. Always more! Perhaps you recall that my friends and I occasionally like to participate in horsey adventures that call for dressing up (and tailgating). 'Tis the season again for more shenanigans, and we're going in a whole new direction this year lol.

haha and there are even more where that came from!
Because we're adults, dammit. If we want to play dress up with our ponies and braid feathery boas into their manes while wearing tutus, ain't nobody gonna stop us!! (But I promise: plenty of ppl will hopefully take pictures lol)

such a nice matching set!
Back on the side of more, uh, classic styling - we have this lovely new USG bonnet and pad set. Liz from Clover Ledge Farm hosted a great contest in anticipation of her and Snappy's championship event - an event in which they had an absolutely fantastic time (even if the cross country course design was a tad underwhelming for Snappy's prowess).

and socks, i <3 socks
I was thrilled to win the contest, and even happier follow along as they had a great event. Unfortunately while it was always planned to be Snappy's swan song before retirement, it proved to be more final than anyone expected, as Liz had to say goodbye to Snappy not long after.

works surprisingly well with charlie's berry+black DJD browband. too bad he wouldn't be still for a pic
So Charlie will wear this set with a little more gravity and respect - hoping to do justice to the memory of a versatile, talented and dignified Standardbred mare!

i swear he's a generally happy horse, but he's got that pitiful look down pat. as evidenced on that right side pic of him a week and a half ago sporting splint juice on the RF, an abscessing LF, a silver-sprayed infected shark bite front and center, plus a broken halter just for kicks. long suffering soul!
So far he's been coming back into "regular" work feeling quite good, actually. Each ride starts with at least one moment of his head up in the air, turning back to face me with bared teeth - asking if I'm serious about going. Maybe homeboy thought his time off meant that the whole "retired" part of retired racehorse was finally coming true. Sorry buddy, nope! Now get to work!

he's all better now tho!! cleared for takeoff!
And he's basically acquiesced more or less immediately. I've been trying to focus very hard on my own position - my seat, my torso and shoulders, my arms and hands, legs... yea, all of it. And focusing on riding the horse's body rather than getting baited into an argument about where he holds his nose (a trap I constantly fell into with Isabel too).

fun new thing from Mary's in San Diego!
And ya know what? He's doing pretty well! It turns out (and I'm sure this will shock you) that if I ignore where his head and neck are, and focus on riding his body where I need it to be - straight, balanced and riding forward, while also holding my own position - Charlie has this nice way of kinda just.... settling in to a reasonable frame and carriage.

Ya know. That whole "form follows function" thing. Groundbreaking news over here, I tell ya!

back on track crown pad
We've been schooling almost exclusively in our dressage tack too. In a weird way, it's almost like my default tack choices have changed right in line with the barn move.

At the last place, the black tack always felt a little.... out of place. And like bc we were the only people in dressage tack it would kinda be expected that we would "go" like a dressage pair. But Valegro Charlie is not. So idk, maybe it felt plain old presumptuous?

fits right over the crown piece but basically changed every single dimension of fit for this bridle lol
Now tho, we've got this lovely dressage court to ride in. Plus, basically everyone else habitually schools flat work in dressage tack too. Instead of sticking out, wearing dressage tack is just part of the accepted and commonplace rhythms of training the event horse.

It's weird bc if you had asked me directly whether I made my tack choices at the last place based on my thoughts re: external perception of us, I would have denied it. But considering I've ridden in my dressage saddle more in the last month than in the previous couple months combined... well. It's undeniable lol.

Hopefully tho this change is as beneficial for Charlie as it is for me. I am really getting comfortable in my dressage saddle again and am maybe making some (very incremental) progress on my seat - something that perhaps regressed after a year at the h/j barn. And Charlie feels like he's reflecting that progress in his own work.

Have you ever felt similarly - that your style of riding or choices in tack or equipment are influenced by riders around you? Or maybe it's less about tack and more about what you work on? Or do you pretty much just do your own thing no matter what?

Monday, August 28, 2017

exposure: creeks + gates

So Charlie's new barn has trails. And like, REAL trails - not just deer paths or people-trails that are questionably too steep/narrow for horses.

pictured: not a technical trail master lol
He's gone out through the grounds quite a bit in the past year - whether cross country schooling or just going on purposeful hacks with Brita since she boards here. In fact, Charlie's first ever trail ride was on this property last winter.

i can't be the only one who finds this view intensely refreshing!
We've gone out a couple times since moving in - mostly hacking through the fields. Usually with friends but sometimes alone. Recently tho I heard tell of a trail that goes across a little creek. Obviously very exciting bc Charlie's never actually seen a creek before!!! Clearly we had to go!!

look at all these easy fence lines for cruisin!
Lucky for me, Brita happened to be hankerin' for a hack ride just as Charlie came sound again from his abscess and was ready to get back at it. Poor guy, I tried counting out and he's been ridden something like 4-5 times in the past three weeks. That's wildly insufficient for our purposes but.... it is what it is.

familiar water element is old news to charlie
A long, low-impact walk-trot hack ride across variable terrain seemed like the perfect way to bring him back into work. Charlie seemed to agree too! He's such a pleasant horse to hack out - happy to plod off in any direction (even if he remains, as ever, slightly casual about foot placement).

this pic hardly does them justice but brita and bella just cruised right on around schooling various xc elements. benefits of living on the premises!
Charlie is happy to lead or follow on the trails but usually ends up in the lead just bc of his stride length. Tho, despite not being a 'spooky' horse, his greenness often necessitates getting a lead over the more challenging or technical obstacles that cross his path. As was the case with the creek on this trail.

It wasn't a particularly big creek, in fact it was smaller than most of the crossings on the trails at Izzy's barn. But it was deep-ish and too broad to jump, and by far bigger than anything Charlie's seen before.

see the goldfish in the trough????
So he just halted, snorted and looked at the creek a little funny. Watched as Bella came past us and splashed through with no problem. Snorted a little more. Then with much trepidation, just stepped right on in and made the crossing. Gooooood boy.

the trough was only spooky for a moment tho - then he realized that cute mare maybe needed some gentlemanly company!
He's such a funny horse - he's so quiet and so easy going and so down to earth, it's very easy to forget how green he is.

It's also very easy to forget one of the first lessons he taught me: That, actually, he's not great at handling pressure. Charlie's tendency is to get upset and defensive when he's confused or thinks he's in trouble.

charlie hopes to follow in bella's footsteps!
I kinda ran headfirst into this issue last week while just hacking out by myself after getting home from San Diego. Most of the fields are used for turn out so gates are a way of life. And most latches are too low to reach when you ride a 17h giant.

After jumping off and remounting repeatedly (and thanking my lucky stars that Charlie stands way better than Isabel ever did) we came upon the below gate that looked like something I could handle from the saddle. Charlie was able to do the footwork necessary to open the gate - but unfortunately was not able to get it shut.

true story: gates r hard.
Mostly it boiled down to rider error - I was so focused on the gate: going forward, backward, whoa boy, now sideways, wait forward, forward now! That I wasn't focusing enough on Charlie. Considering... ya know... he's proven to be a pressure averse horse and has previously shown distinct resistance to being driven forward (hellloooo dinosaur stuck in tar pit!).

Brita has a #concern for us lol
So we ended up having a moment. Charlie's biggest meltdown in recent memory. Lots of running backward and mini-rearspins.

Fortunately, Charlie is also a forgiving horse. And a thinking horse. And we've spent a LOT of time working on building trust. So he was able to pause, take a breath, hear me out, and walk back up to the gate. At which point I promptly hopped off to close the thing from the ground and just move right on along with our lives.

he'll figure it out eventually tho!
So this weekend we could take full advantage of hacking out with friends whose horses are gate experts. Charlie got to open some gates (the easy part), and even attempt to close a couple. Slowly. Steadily. Not a big fuss if he couldn't do it, bc our trail companions could step in and finish the job at any moment.

My favorite thing about this horse is he actually seems to enjoy challenges and puzzles and whatnot - he just needs to know he can get the answer correct, or at least that he won't get in trouble for getting it wrong. So gates will just have to be added to the list of things he needs to learn the rules about. That it's a game of very small steps and incremental lateral maneuvers.

poor soul also finally made his grand return to the dressage court for purposeful schooling!
And for me, it's so useful to remember that even tho the horse has had so much exposure on the track and in the past year with me, there's still so much that he hasn't seen. Like.... a creek. Or being expected to have a gate closed from his back.

One of these things isn't really something horses do naturally in the wild. And the other isn't one that is always present for the domesticated horse. Go figure, Charlie still struggles with both lol. Has your horse ever caught you off guard with a surprising or unexpected hole in his education?

Saturday, August 26, 2017

boat shoes graduate?

Big news in Charlieland: homeboy has officially gone two full cycles without losing a shoe!!! Wooo!!!! Granted, he's still basically on a 3-3.5 week cycle. But.... ya know, it's still better than 2.5 weeks haha!

(sob. also, between this and my post about how much this horse eats, you've gotten a real insider's view on the insane amount of care and maintenance going into this saintly beast. thank god he's such a good boy! #worthit)

freshly done + keratex-koated tootsies. and new le mieux!
Anyway, many aspects of Charlie's day to day care changed with the barn move. Obviously. Unfortunately the move also necessitated a slight shuffling around in Charlie's A-team of care providers. Specifically: our beloved farrier, who brought Charlie along from race plates to his current set of hooves, was unable to keep us on as clients after the move.

finally bought the guy his own dedicated xc boots. you could say it's getting serious.
This was sad news, as I really liked this farrier - particularly as he had been very thoughtful in developing a plan for Charlie, and had taken ownership and accountability over Charlie's hoof health. You may remember this past June, for instance, when he asked me to try Charlie in leather rim pads - something that's seemed to work well for the horse.

a surprisingly difficult picture to take - that's light shining through the boot perforations. my experience with the earlier generation of these boots (that isabel wore) was that they basically hold zero water and dry super fast
So switching to a new farrier (actually even just deciding on one in the first place) has been a little nerve-wracking for me. I'm lucky that the new barn has three different farriers who each come on property every single week. Which is.... actually really freakin awesome and reassuring.

But ya know. Everyone always has strong opinions about who does the best work or whatever, so it's been tricky trying to navigate that mine field. Luckily we've now gotten through our second shoeing with the new farrier (3wk cycle yo, time flies) and I think we're in a good place.

obvi haven't actually used 'em yet, notice tags still on. chose these boots bc 1) i loved the full set i had for isabel and, imho 2) these boots offer the most hi-tech protection for the best price currently on the market
In my ideal world, I'll have a professional who I can trust intrinsically to make good choices for my horse - to be the expert in farriery so that I don't have to be. I want the ppl who provide care for my horse to feel like they can be creative in addressing his needs, and feel like they can do what they think needs done.

But.... I also have opinions of my own. For Charlie's first cycle with the new farrier, she expressed her own personal disinclination for rim pads and preference for full pads. So this past cycle, Charlie wore full leather pads. Meanwhile, I personally have my own reservations about full pads... some of which felt merited when Charlie came up with a minor abscess and I kinda had my hands tied for treating it.

first impression is very strong tho. the strike plates (blue patches) are super interesting - they're fully flexible while also feeling thick, protective, and shock absorbing
So for his second shoeing at the new place, we opted to go entirely sans pads. The reality is that Charlie's soles and frogs were actually in reasonable shape when the previous farrier decided to try rim pads. His purpose had more to do with clearance and shock absorption, and perhaps a softer cushion to reduce crumbling in the hoof wall.

This makes me optimistic that the three weeks Charlie spent in full pads won't have softened his soles much or made them too overly sensitive. Hopefully, lol. Tho obvi I'll do everything I can to help toughen them up. #keratex4lyfe

lol he looks excited, no?
We'll see how it goes. Charlie's inconsistent riding schedule has persisted despite all my best intentions over these past few weeks, as he came up with an abscess basically right after our baller xc school and is only just now ready to rock 'n roll again.

Obviously the past three-ish weeks of limited and sporadic riding are not at all ideal going into what ought to be our 'ramp up' for the fall season. But.... well. That's kinda the silver lining of riding in lower levels, right? We don't need a ton of fitness to get through a BN event.

I would like a little more schooling tho. It would be nice to do Charlie a little bit of justice in the dressage ring. To be able to piece together some of his newfound abilities long enough to grab a couple good scores haha. It'll be what it's gonna be tho. We're officially in the two week count down to kicking off our fall season. Here's hoping we can use this period to make up for lost time!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

good eats: OTTB edition

I've written a few times now about the slow (sloowwww) evolution of Charlie's nutrition plan. And I've always been pretty vague about the details bc I wanted to sort it out with the professionals in my world who know Charlie and our circumstances intimately.

But I think we're finally to a place of stasis. Managed maintenance - especially now that I'm 100% responsible for every aspect of Charlie's feed program outside of hay and grazing.

only the best for sir!
First some history: A month after bringing Charlie home, I wrote about how we had been taking it slowly with adjusting his diet.

He changed to a new feed after coming home to our previous h/j barn and letting down off the high octane track diet. A brief bout of colic his first week with us kept us conservative in shaking up his world. Plus, knowing he'd go through extreme adjustments and transformations, I sought to stagger the introduction of any supplements or treatments.

After about six months it felt like Charlie had plateaued. That he'd reached a point where he wasn't necessarily 'crashing' post track any more, but he also wasn't really rebounding either. He was thin and in a state that definitely would not be considered "thriving."

For example, the first picture in this post from March is one of my most favorite with Charlie bc it so perfectly captures my emotional state in taking him to our first event together. And yet.... It's hard for me to look at bc even now I'm so ashamed of his body condition.

legit the most recent pic i have of his full body lol
With the input of barn mgmt (who were surprisingly resistant to any change, #frustrating) and a vet, we decided to transition Charlie to the feed he remains on to this day: Nutrena Pro Force Fuel (12% protein, 10% fiber, 13% fat). This is supplemented by alfalfa pellets at every meal.

Following that feed switch, we slowly but surely began creating his supplement program - which included adding a gastric supplement U-Shield and a general wellness top dressing Cocosoya.

Those are both currently still part of Charlie's program. I like the U-Shield (calcium carbonate and magnesium oxide) since trailering is a normal part of Charlie's life (not lately tho!! wooo!!!). Not sure I'll refill the Cocosoya once it's empty, honestly.

Platinum Performance Equine
The rest of Charlie's current supplement regimen is actually pretty simple - mostly bc damn, it's f*ing expensive. Charlie's body carries the baggage of a lengthy career on the track. And his feet are exactly what you would expect in a size giant OTTB.

Therefore I've relied heavily on the professionals in my world to give me the straight poop on what's worth investing in supplement-wise. Trainer P told me early on: She's a big believer in Platinum Performance in horses, and many of those same ingredients in people. She credits this specific supplement in particular with the recovery and wellness of a few horses in her life. Charlie's vet and farrier added their votes of confidence as well.

Charlie has been on this supplement since January - starting with a lengthy period on the loading dose, tho now he's on the maintenance dose (1/2cup daily). The introduction of Platinum Performance into Charlie's diet coincided with the point at which he came reliably sound, after months of intermittent body and hoof soreness.

Farrier's Formula by Life Data Labs
That was all well and fine for a while - right up until Charlie started walking out of his shoes earlier this summer. My farrier explicitly said he preferred Platinum Performance to Farrier's Formula... But we all know that old adage: ask two horse people, get three answers.

I have known many, many success stories with Farrier's Formula - and clearly if I want to avoid dealing with 2.5wk shoeing cycles next summer, I should probably be working on building out that new hoof now.

So Charlie started the loading dose of Farrier's Formula in June. And damn but he eats a lot of this stuff (1 1/3cups daily). I order it 44lbs at a time. Sheesh. The idea here is that this is very much a long game supplement - it's affecting the new hoof at the point of growth. Already tho (and I really hope this is not my mind playing tricks on me), I'm liking the look of Charlie's hoof as it grows out. And in the meantime, there's always Keratex.....

Farmnam Apple Elite Electrolytes
For the sake of completeness, the final ingredient in Charlie's current supp baggies is an electrolyte. I chose the first one on Amazon that looked vaguely familiar and reasonably priced.

Our last barn simply included e-lytes free of charge for all horses on the property, so I felt compelled to add it to Charlie's regimen after the move for the rest of summer. He's a great sweater and it's hot and muggy here. The stuff is cheap too. Good 'nuff reasoning for me.

the whole mixture is the size of my hand
I had to adjust the dosages and balance of all of Charlie's supplements after the move since the new place strongly encourages pre-measured packs or baggies rather than measuring out themselves. Therefore it behooved me to have interchangeable AM and PM supp bags.

So all of the above (plus the squirts of U-Shield and Cocosoya) are split between morning and evening feeds of Fuel and alfalfa pellets, soaked and fed on the ground naturally bc #specialsnowflake #tiebacksurgery #helikestoplaywithhisfoodokay

he gets a baggie at each meal, so twice a day
And christ it's a lot of food. The new barn has one specific type of feed that it'll provide with board - some sweet feed variation that's totally reasonable but also not really what Charlie needs. So now I'm ordering my own feed tacked on to the barn's standing weekly shipment.

Still haven't really figured out the exactly optimum delivery schedule for Charlie's Fuel (he eats approx 85% of a 50lb bag each week and I have enough space for two bags), and am just kinda ordering the alfalfa as needed (typically a bag every 4ish weeks). It's a lot tho!

unlimited snax 4eva tho bc #spoiled
It's also meant that I could increase his feed on my own terms with the move, which was nice. We were basically at the limit of what my last barn wanted to feed Charlie anyway (and not even bc they wanted to charge me extra, obvi I would have paid) but it still felt a little insufficient.

obvi he could have nothing less while still being expected to work under such rainy circumstances!
In fact, at the last place I would often supplement Charlie's diet with an extra beet pulp pellet mash on days when I rode. That's gone a bit by the wayside at the new place, just bc of how the feed schedule plays out with my time at the barn - I'd be basically adding a third meal right on top of his second, instead of spreading them out more. So not quite ideal.

like crossing "streams" -- tis hard work!!
Plus Charlie's new pasture situation might actually be a little bit better. He was on a GIANT pasture at the last place but it never seemed to get much rest and the grass was thin in places.

And it's worth noting here: the #1 difference maker all along in Charlie's physical condition has been access to grass. Not even hay - we threw all the hay in the world at him. Hay is good. It's super important. I continue to throw extra flakes at him whenever possible. But grasssss, man. That's the good stuff apparently!

(even if the wet dew and sugars from grass have wreaked havoc on his feetsies, wtf nature why can't we ever just have one solid win with horses ever, c'mon!)

naturally the broad grassy pasture on the other side of those trees helps too
of course charlie doesn't gallop off up the hill after turnout. no, no - sir must sniff the roses poop on his way out!
So all that to say: Charlie's diet has changed slowly but substantially during his year with me. As has his physical condition. I'm of the opinion that the two are related. Tho, as is always the case, it's possible that some of the changes in his condition would have occurred with or without my interference or supplementation.

I'm pleased with his current condition tho. He lost a little weight with the move, but appears to be making that ground right back up again. His muscling isn't fantastic right now, but again that can be attributed to some inconsistencies over the past month bc if nothing else, OTTBs reflect work in real time haha. Seems tho like his nutrition is finally balanced enough that he's able to build up the muscle in pace with his work load.

It's been interesting for me to actually dig in and educate myself about all this stuff. Lots of trial and error. Lots of observing how other people (including all you!) handle the horses. And lots of general research. Who knew it could be so complicated?! While also being so simple! lol...

I know LOTS of you have taken horses through similar transformations - did your process look similar? Or actually quite different? Maybe your horse was more particular about tastes, or had pressing health issues requiring more purposeful care or treatment? Or maybe you're blessed with one of those horses that thrives on abject neglect??? (Isabel sometimes I miss you!! lol...)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

need a giggle? have some fails.

Busy days with limited horsing and even less media had me feeling like I didn't have much to share.

But lo! It dawned on me that as we approach the one year mark with Charlie, it might be fun to look back on some of our more.... uh.... special moments together. 

That's right, y'all. I'm talking bloopers. Funny moments of FAIL. Because damn, we've got a lot. Like, uh, who remembers this glorious first photo ever of me trotting on Charlie???

The horse is nothing short of a character, after all. And I figure, we spend so much time gushing about what a good boy he is that it's only fair to point out that he's kinda a goof too. Like here, where he just.can't.even with the flies.

Or, uh, that time I stuffed him on my old Calico trailer. Homebody did not fit and was not impressed.

And who can forget our first glorious attempts at ground poles? Much grace. Very elegance.

Of course all along I've been somewhat delusional about the future - like when I photoshopped Charlie's face into one of Allison's fox hunting pics with Dino lol. #notcreepyatall

Really tho, we all know the truth: Charlie's been a refined and sophisticated dressage horse since the beginning - including stunning the judge while winning his first show.

Of course, we can't blame the horse for all our fails. Sometimes (let's be real, most of the time), it's me. Like when I got the horse all tangled up trying to unload him from the trailer. He tried to stop - tried to tell me something was wrong. But noooo, I just couldn't listen. Le sigh, his sheet paid the ultimate price.

It's cool tho. Together, we're clearly an unstoppable force in the dressage world, experts of the upper level "imminent death by face planting" movements - a testament to our superior balance. 

Ha, and for further proof of our prowess, let's not forget that time we went to a fancy pants dressage clinic and basically had to be trotted around in hand by the clinician. Womp. 

Poor Charlie. Sometimes he can barely tolerate being seen with me. 

Sometimes, tho. Just sometimes.... The fails come straight from the horse's mouth. Or, uh, in this case, from Charlie's patented 'dinosaur stuck in tar pit' routine.

Pleasant, no?

Gosh, this really was a golden age for us in our partnership. Sometimes I almost miss it!

Definitely do not miss that whole "trying to teach Charlie to actually care even a little bit about where his feet are" thing tho.

All that hard work paid off tho. Suddenly Charlie became REALLY excited about having feet. And putting them EVERYWHERE! Like the above, when we pretended to drop into Head of the Lake over a tiny oxer. 

Which was naturally just practice for the real thing haha. #basicallyrolex

Ok so actually I have so many shots of us leaping hilariously over tiny fences while I desperately try to cling to his back. It's almost embarrassing lol. Almost.

But we're clearly beyond feeling any shame at this point haha.

These days we're more about world domination, one cross country course at a time. Never mind that the power steering barely works well enough to navigate a tiny 18" box from 5 strides out haha.

But what we lack in steering, Charlie clearly makes up with style. Tail style. 

And more exquisite form in leaping at dem fences!

Uh, most of the time haha. Can't fault the clever boy for checking all possible emergency exits every now and then tho!

Ugh but blast it, there's that stuck dinosaur again. When will this thing go extinct already??? Can we just pretend this is like, a pirouette canter or something??? 

Certainly it's better than whatever this graceful dressage brontosaurus is up to haha. 

Oh Charlie. Can we at least get points for creative expression?

Like that time he offered his own interpretive dance at the water - in a new move called "eliminated on refusals" lol.

He's certainly got a unique style!

And obvi much grace. We are, after all, nothing if not graceful.

And so the cycle continues. Forever and ever, amen. Here's for another year full of fantastically fail-ful moments with the big guy lol!

Oh horses. They're humbling sometimes for sure! Anyone else care to share some favorite moments of fail?