Friday, September 29, 2017

2017 Two Point Challenge!

Announcement time, everybody!!!

October 2017 is nearly upon us - beginning that time of year where our riding scales back in conjunction with shorter days, colder weather, and lighter event schedules. Therefore it's the perfect time to refocus on ourselves as riders and make our own strength and conditioning a priority going into the winter "bootcamp" season.

Which means it's that time of year for the annual Two Point Challenge, fondly referred to as 2ptober!!! And I'm thrilled to co-host this contest with Alli of PONY'TUDE!

2ptober was the brain child of L Williams of Viva Carlos as a friendly communal challenge to riders everywhere to improve in strength and stamina. L hosted for many years with Hillary of Equestrian at Hart before passing the baton last year.

Alli and I are excited to continue the tradition -- and have taken a fresh look at prize offerings for champions and reserve champions in order to fully incentivize your participation! Obviously everyone is a winner when the outcome is improved strength in the saddle, but some extra material goodies never hurt too, amirite??

So. If you want a shot at the titles and prizes, check out the rules below to get started!

The Rules:

- Sign up to participate simply by leaving a comment here or on Alli's post. All riders welcome!

- Assume your two point (aka "jump") position during an upcoming ride. Meaning: seat fully out of the saddle but without relying on your hands for balance. Doesn't matter what gait, whatever you prefer. Any ride, any time, all that matters is your position - no leaning on hands, no seat bumping the saddle (otherwise you gotta restart the clock)!

- Hold that position for as long as you're currently able and time yourself. This is your baseline.

- Submit your baseline time in a comment here or on Alli's blog. Simply posting on your own blog does not constitute submission!! 

**Baselines are due WEDNESDAY OCT 4TH by midnight!!**

- Make a plan and track your progress. Report your weekly progress on longest time maintained in 2pt position at the end of each week in a comment here or at PONY'TUDE (we'll have reminder posts up!)

- Spread the word! The more the merrier!! (This won't increase your chances of winning -- only your sweat, burning muscles and tears can do that!)


After the end of October we will award Champion and Reserve Champion titles in two categories:
-Most Improved
-Longest Time

Limit one title per competitor, so FOUR distinct winners will be chosen! And get PRIZES - details on those next week!!!

Last year saw Sarah from Three Chestnuts win the Longest Time division with a monster 35:16 time, with L Williams of Viva Carlos snagging reserve in her first year as an eligible competitor with a time of 28:30. Liz from In Omnia Paratus saw a 1,048% improvement on her baseline time to secure the championship as Most Improved, and Olivia from DIY Horse Ownership braved the elements to log a final improvement of 959% to get the reserve title.


Do you have it in you to be the next 2ptober Champion? Sign up to find out!!

Allison and I will post weekly reminders for competitors to submit their 2pt progress. We'll also post tips and tricks to make the most out of your practice.

This contest is a great way to get that kick in the pants and extra push to be the strongest rider you can be. It's furthermore a great opportunity to feel like part of a community while you're at it, and hopefully meet a few new bloggers in the process! Plus. Again. PRIZES!!

So get ready - Get set - And start your timers!!

Monday, September 25, 2017

the latest + greatest in Charlieland

Ooookay folks, happy Monday! I know I'm not the only one a little bit tired and worn out after a long weekend spent running around and hangin out at horse shows and whatnot.

charlie loves the window in his stall
There was definitely a lot of ground covered, so let's see if I can't just get through all the salient details in a light hearted and easy-to-digest format lol.

look at all those pretty xc jumps! spoiler: we jumped none of them
When I last left off, Charlie was getting back into the swing of things with regular lessons and whatnot as we look forward to the fall riding season. That theme continued through the week with getting out for our latest routine of hacking around with Brita and Bella for trot sets and conditioning.

You woulda thought I coated the poor big ol' bay ottb with shaving cream lol (it's kinda unseasonably warm out right now) but he was good. Earned himself a day off after that, with just a couple light rides planned before this weekend's home starter event (**foreshadowing**).

ooooh but i did go see this fancy little red headed mare!
My weekend errands also saw me popping over to Isabel's barn to pick up some stuff too!!! Unfortunately I jusssst missed getting to watch her go with her lease rider (who has had the lease now since March!!).

and naturally had to catch up with some of my favorite barn cats
They're doing so well together tho. I'm just so so so happy with how circumstances ended up with these two.

she hasn't changed much lol
Her leaser M is a big fan of both dressage and arabs, and Isabel seems pretty smitten with her too. M is actually allowed to pet Izzy's face. Which... like.... is kinda astonishing lol. Normally one must receive an engraved invitation via royal mail just to even consider the honor of petting Ms Thing's fuzzy muzzle. But M has apparently won the princess over!

she looks happy tho <3
Actually there's some stuff on the events calendar this fall that looks like it could be a great fit for these two too, so hopefully we'll have more to come there later. Suffice it to say tho, it's so strangely satisfying and rewarding to know that Isabel has a safe and happy job that includes being a great teacher of dressage.

charlie's feed pan destruction continues so we have gotten more creative
Anyway, the source of my errand at that barn was picking up a spare old tire since Charlie DID in fact manage to rip that feed tub off the wall. Rotten pony. So per recommendations, we moved on to other ideas.

he laughs in the face of our mere mortal efforts to stop his play tho
While the screwed-in wall-mounted feed tub lasted a couple days, this tire/pan combination didn't even last a single feeding. Sigh.... Charlie I just don't understand you lol.

new modification: he's gonna have to legit rip down that board to get it off the wall now
So I tried a new method for mounting the pan to the wall which is WAY more secure, and actually a little lifted off the ground to further reduce the likelihood of Charlie pawing at it. I don't love that it's more at knee level instead of on the ground... but hopefully it won't have a meaningful impact on Charlie's likelihood to aspirate his food.

it's a little higher than i'd wish but... we'll see
Mostly tho I just really want him to stop dumping his food bc I'm fighting a possibly more important battle of keeping his stall dry. And key to that is dealing with barn workers who are reluctant to heavily bed the area where he is most likely to spill food, even tho that's the low spot in the stall where all fluid pools.

So step 1 in my fight is getting Charlie to stop throwing his food around so that folks cleaning stalls are more likely to get more bedding in there. I've also picked up some bags of Stall Dry and pine pellets to further encourage a dryer stall environment. We'll see!

trend-setting suspender action goin on
Of course. Haha. Of course, tho, the keenest among you may have noticed in all of these pictures that Charlie is sporting a whole fun array of leg wear. Ice boots.... Standing wraps.... All of it.

Because.... ya. The horse has gone and wrecked hisself yet again. At least this time he's not actually really lame, but he sure as shit ain't right either.

it doesn't even look like a real leg
He's either re-aggravated that splint again, or given himself a whole new one. Sigh.

oh charlie...
So we're basically gonna pull out all the big diagnostic guns this time around. The splint has never really made him lame, but he's done this to himself at least 3 (but possibly 4) times in the year that I've owned him.

mmmmmm bute
While it's possible that each time is a new injury or simply a re-aggravation of the old injury, it's also possible that something is going on in the leg preventing it from fully healing. So once we can get all the swelling out we're gonna take a little looksie around in there.

hand grazing is fun tho
For his part, tho, Charlie hardly seems to notice at all lol. The leg is sore and sensitive to the touch (esp if said touch is more of a poke or squeeze lol), but he's not really lame on it.

such a goofy horse lol
All the same tho, I'm not messing with it. This particular iteration of the injury is a little worse than previous instances and is proving a little slower to go down.

and he's very suddenly gotten FUZZY
So we're staying a little more regimented with wrapping and icing cycles. I unfortunately just used up the last of my Surpass tho so we'll have to settle for poultice until the vet can grab me a new tube (or decide on any different course of action).

meanwhile: PONIES!!! recognize Noelle??
Naturally tho, as is Charlie's habit of late, his timing was terrible. This past weekend was OF's annual starter trial. You may remember this trial in 2014 was my first ever HT! We then stormed back in 2015 to cruise around BN one last time before moving up to Novice. Then of course last year I was horse-less so I had to miss out, sadly.

hey look at all those awesome xc jumps behind me! sure would be cool to.... actually jump them.
But this year? This was supposed to be our big grand return to my favorite "home" event -- that is now actually literally at my horse's home barn. Our first time ever having a full HT at home: what's not to love about not even needing to haul out?!?

jump judgin is fun anyway tho
Plus OF holds a "farm division" for all levels first thing in the morning so riders and boarders based at OF can cruise through their rides early then stay to volunteer for the "open" divisions (open to the public) for the rest of the day. The kicker? Riding in the farm division costs $40.

Best. Deal. Ever.

esp when you get to cheer on all your friends as they gallop past!
Alas tho, I obviously had to scratch. Sigh. Charrrliieeeee stahhhhhp :(

wheeeeee go team!!!!!
It was fine tho. I just volunteered the whole day instead of only the second half, and got to watch all my friends (like Rachael and Brita, who dominated the farm novice division with first and second place finishes) and new barn mates gallop around and have a blast.

look at all that satin too!! 
It's not quite the same thrill as getting to ride my own horse in competition... But it was still a pretty great way to spend a day.

And in the meantime I'm finally sending myself a cease and desist letter. Laying an embargo down on any and all plan-making with Charlie until we know what's up with that leg. And even then, I'm just gonna try to be a little bit better about taking each day as it comes. Bc I'm kinda over and done with the disappointment of broken plans, ya know?

That's hard for an obsessive planner like myself lol, but I'll do my best! In the meantime, wish us luck getting all the swelling outso we can get clear diagnostics on it soon! Hope you all had a good weekend too - and I especially hope yours involved more actual riding than mine!

Friday, September 22, 2017

progress is not inevitable

We all know the daily, sometimes hourly struggle of what it feels like to keep pushing for more, and better. All with the abstract, hopelessly optimistic idea that our efforts will eventually be rewarded.

ah memories

And especially for those of us who have lately maybe not had the easiest run of things - for whatever reason - it's maybe important to take a step back and remember that even when things are hard, or even when the work feels... like a slog, or like droplets in a vast ocean... it's all adding up to something cumulative, something tangible.

*** Dressage *** 

mda schooling show

loch moy

fair hill


Progress is not inevitable. It depends on our willingness to roll up our sleeves and get it done. To not be afraid to work.

*** Stadium Jumping ***




loch moy





We may confront road blocks. But when that happens, that's the test. Not 'how do you feel when things are going good.'

The test is when you're out in the field and on the ground doing the work and things get hard. How do you respond and react?

*** Cross Country ***

loch moy

fair hill

schooling at OF

fair hill

Our response has to be to push forward with an infectious and relentless optimism. Not blind, but hard-earned optimism rooted in the stories of past progress and success. The stories that accumulate and build. That create a trajectory that's better.


first ride, first "before" picture

So for this Friday, I'm taking a moment to celebrate the steps toward a "better" made possible by every small and sometimes futile feeling of exertion over the past year. All those small steps that sometimes leave us wishing for more or faster results, but that all the same still bring us closer every day to where we want to be.

Aided, in no small part, by lifting many (or, uh, basically all) of the above words of inspiration from one of my favorite speechmakers in his latest discussion on topics much more far-reaching than our experiences riding and training horses. But it's funny how, philosophically, so many of the same ideas still hold.

Happy Friday, y'all. Here's to a weekend hopefully spent reaching as ever for more and better, and enjoying every step of the way!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

jumping lessons one month later

It probably wasn't super obvious, but yesterday's summary of our recent dressage lesson was actually a full week old. That's the way of things around blogs tho, I guess. We're always at least a day or two behind around here, if not a little more!

"i am fancy dressage horse, yes?" - charlie
In the case of Le King of Dings over here, that means he's often coming sound again right around the time I post about his latest lameness. Which was again the case this time around. His awful, terrible, no good bruise resolved itself enough for him to consider himself no longer crippled by Sunday. At which point he got a nice long hack (as mentioned yesterday).

"yes, i suppose i am."
Then Monday he got a reasonably structured flat ride - for which naturally I dressed him up like the fanciest of fancy dressage horses. White boots, fleecy bells, the whole nine yards. Bc obvi if he came up lame at least maybe ppl would be distracted by his cute outfit? Maybe??? lol....

He was sound tho. And quite good. Well. Let me temper that a little bit: he was sluggish and decidedly behind my leg for at least the first half of the ride. But he offered exactly zero dinosaur moments. And actually got right on board with my efforts to put him in front of my leg. Specifically: halt-trot transitions. Actually, he was so on board that he did a shockingly nice walk-canter transition despite me only looking for trot. Goooood boy!

he's also a fancy jumping blur too!
So I was optimistic going into a hastily scheduled make-up evening jump lesson. Which, if you're keeping track, is our first real lesson over fences in exactly one month. The last one being that hybrid stadium / xc lesson back in August. Then we were sidelined by that abscess for a little while.... tho at least we got one quick supervised school over fences in the meantime.

his middle name is "unimpressed"
Also in the meantime, Charlie and I had a few opportunities to go out and jump our own selves around - such as during that baller paper chase at Tranquility, and obviously during our recent competition at Fair Hill.

thank god for that star to at least sorta make sense of the blur!
And Charlie's just been jumping great. So well. I'm so excited for him. But simultaneously honestly I'm a bit caught up in the disappointment of wondering where he could be if we hadn't had such a crappy 6-8 week run of things. Between my travel, his aggravated splint, more travel, that abscess, then the recent fat leg... We've just missed a lot of time.

"we're gonna need a bigger fence!"
I know it sounds like a broken record every time I dwell on that.... But it's what's on my mind so it's what I write about. Like, included in that lost time are the opportunities to school new and interesting challenges, or continuing to expand Charlie's horizons with adding more height.

When you're constantly just trying to "get back into it" tho, it doesn't make sense to always be pushing boundaries.

love how clever he's getting to the base!
So this lesson was nothing amazing or super ground breaking. Charlie was good, I was ok. We had mostly a good rhythm and still some green mistakes. I'm REALLY excited tho about how adjustable the horse is getting - in learning a half halt, but also in his steering.

he's a pro at bending lines now too <3 i didn't even know he popped a change in this line til i watched the video lol
We schooled around some lines and bending lines. A couple interestingly styled fences (tho we left out the skinny shark's tooth bc of needing to share daylight among lesson mates) and more technical turns. But yet I wished it could have been more. And honestly wished each fence was raised another hole or two. That they could have been 2'6 and up instead of 2'6 and below.

disappointed we didn't try the shark's tooth, not enough daylight :( soon!!
Which seems crazy haha considering my crippling nerves and anxiety just three months ago. But if I've learned anything, it's that confidence and anxiety are cyclical beasts. And I will take whatever good positive feeling comes my way, no questions asked, thankyouverymuch.

(imo, negative gnawing feelings deserve full dissection and analysis. i like to know those issues inside and out! the happy feel-goods tho?? no need to look that gift horse in the mouth!)

fan jumps are old hat now tho!
I hope that doesn't sound whiny lol. We aren't really in any rush to get any where, and we aren't exactly stagnating or anything -- obviously there's still a lot of work to do in improving my riding and getting Charlie more schooled, ever more trained.

dusky evening video here!

Maybe I'm just feeling greedy tho lol. I just want to get beyond this feeling of "getting back into the groove." It's cool tho. It's all ahead of us.

Our upcoming calendar has a lot to be excited about, and there are a few other ideas bumping around in my head for new ways to enjoy this wonderful horse of mine. We'll see how it goes! And in the meantime.... yea, we'll just be here, working on getting back into that groove. Forever and always lol.

How about you - have you ever had to deal with little nagging setback after setback, or feeling like you have so many goals allllmost within reach, but not quite? Or maybe you're more patient than me haha -- or you're better about not making too many concrete goals with your horses bc horses have such a knack for irreverence when it comes to our plans??