Tuesday, September 5, 2017

paper chasin' the rainbow!

I'm gonna skip around a little in reporting on this past weekend's events. Bc suffice it to say, it was an eventful Labor Day weekend!!

Most notably? Charlie stayed SOUND and COMFORTABLE on that damn hoof all throughout, so we could participate in our weekly jump lesson (details on that tomorrow). We kept it very light tho, because.... We got to go on our big planned paper chase adventure at Tranquility on Sunday!!!

#chasetherainbow
Finally!!! This has been a highly anticipated event on our calendars for a while now - esp after our big hunter pace plans for earlier this spring got rained out (womp).

And perhaps it worked out for the best too, since Charlie had only just started jumping last spring and still hadn't seen any xc style fences yet. Whereas now? He's a legit professional cross country machine.

glamorous lol
And because we're basically all 12yos around here, obviously we had to have a team outfit and theme for the ride. Last year, if you remember, we turned this paper chase into a surprise bridal party for former barn mate Rachael.

This year we tossed around a couple ideas and eventually settled on the rainbow theme - complete with tutus and feathery boas and all the glitter and bedazzling that could reasonably be applied to horses!

Sierra looked smashing in red - check out those glittery boots!
The cool thing about this particular paper chase is that it's the perfect combination of glorified trail riding, cross country schooling, and field galloping.

Smoke even wore glittery quarter marks!!! 
Rainy conditions the day prior meant the flagged course was a slightly shortened. Usually they can use portions of the Sweet Air trail system for the paper chase, but those trails close after rain.

Birdie dialed up her trademarked mohawk with a boa too
I was actually fine with that tho. Considering my horse isn't super fit right now, a 6-8 mile ride felt like it might be pushing it a little bit. The shortened distance ended up being perfect tho - ending up at about an hour and a half ride time, complete with lots of breaks for jump schooling and walking through the woods.

and Little Foot was regal in purple!! tho annoyingly i somehow left the purple tutu at home :( it worked out the bc the yellow pair ended up not riding, so thank goodness we had a spare tutu! 
I definitely wanted to jump around a little bit, using this outing as a final "school" before next weekend's Fair Hill starter trial.

#betherainbow
Given Charlie's light work load recently, plus his questionable hoof situation, I determined to be very purposeful in my jumping. Sticking strictly to efforts that felt like they would be additive to Charlie's general training and experience, without a lot of time spent on smaller warm up type fences or things he's already seen before.

why no, of course we didn't look ridiculous!
The flagged course took us through a section of woods to get started. This was also a good time to get Charlie accustomed to riding out with 6 horses. He was a little unsure of himself and kinda jiggy to begin. Not my favorite thing in the world, but I figured he'd settle after a little while. And he did, good boy.

skoolin cross country!!
After some walking and trotting through the woods, with some of the other very fit ottbs also feeling super amped and ready to run, we opted to open up to canter / hand gallop once the ground got good enough.

The path led us past a series of low log jumps - many of which the other riders all took in stride. And Charlie and I squeezed in to pop over the last of those logs before emerging into the first cross country field.

twisty table thingy!! BN on left, N on right
Which, naturally, the team took full advantage of haha. I pointed Charlie at a green bench that he's seen twice before now (first at Jenny Camp and then again when we ran BN at Tranquility earlier this summer). He jumped it like the easiest thing in the world, just like I knew he would.

Then we looped around over some stacked rail road ties before turning to the above wavy bridge that had squicked me out when Isabel and I saw it on course at Tranquility during our first penalty-free BN cross country run (where we jumped the lowest Intro option). Again, Charlie popped right over the N side no problem.

novice half coffin! 
Technically, Charlie was maybe a little too fast for some of our jumping and was as likely as not to leave out a stride (or two). But.... I'm gonna forgive our lack of polish and refinement bc 1) we haven't even schooled flat work consistently recently; and 2) god this horse is such a fucking champion.

Seriously. I can't get over the feeling Charlie gives me while jumping. Especially cross country. He just... goes. It's incredible. It's so easy for him, and he's so brave. He makes me feel like we could do anything. Like when we skipped over to the next field and handily cruised down the novice half coffin to my first ever chevron-esque jump, leaving yet another stride out in the process. Charlie just gobbles these jumps up like candy!

Bella went flying over some massive jump constructed of water jugs
Obviously I wanted to be conscientious about not making that hoof sore again by jumping Charlie too much -- but that particular line of fences was definitely on my list of things to tackle during this outing. And he never even blinked!

more tables! this was a repeat from our event here earlier this summer
Didn't hesitate over a little down bank in the woods either. Tho I walked down it again bc of how sloppy and slippery the ground was in that section. Charlie landed cantering anyway, naturally, bc he just does it for fun apparently. :D

methinks charlie might like to go hunting one of these days <3
We still had the whole ride ahead of us tho - so even tho there were a few other things I had thought about jumping, I opted to just finish with one final galloping effort over a table in the fence line. Which, again, Charlie just soared over! And landed galloping with the group up the hill toward the next section of the paper chase.

Bella and Sierra holding down the gray mare contingent!
Our final time for the ride ended up being pretty slow compared to the optimum time, so we didn't win or get a ribbon or anything. Mostly bc we spent a lot of time meandering casually through the woods and around some fields.

who knew tutus could be so fun??
The footing in the woods was pretty torn up too - lots of really slick slides down hill, and churned up deep spots complete with half submerged logs. Charlie got perhaps his most complete education on trail mastery haha - he really had to pay attention to where his feet went!

tired but happy poneh <3
Amazingly tho, he was able to handle some very dicey sections - often on a loose rein so he could make his own choices (as opposed to me providing a heavy amount of support and direction). He only almost face planted once, and ran me into exactly ZERO trees!!!!!

We had at least one near miss in that regard, going down a steep drop in the woods (an actual sheer drop) on slippery mud with a sharp turn at the bottom.... But Charlie figured it out. Good boy.

#tutus4lyfe
He also got some legit creek exposure too, as we crisscrossed a couple. In fact - at the last creek crossing we happened to be in the lead. And it was a narrow path surrounded by thick shrubbery with a steep descent into the creek. Charlie hesitated - but only for a moment then just went right on along with his business. Gooooood boy!

And naturally, as is this group's customary paper chase habit, we finished the ride with a big, giant, flat out GALLOP around the pasture fence lines! And Charlie was GOING OMG. Race horses are FAST, yo! And Brita (who was behind us) said she didn't even think he was going top speed. But wow he's definitely wayyyyyy faster than Isabel haha. What a feeling!!!

That's the first time I've really let Charlie run - just bc it's been tricky to believe in him handling that speed on variable terrain (esp around turns) or to believe I could stop him at the end haha. But we did it. And damn but he's fun <3



And so concluded our #chasingtherainbow team ride at Tranquility! Tho naturally we stuck around for a while afterward to tailgate and chat and relive the memories ;)

Somewhat amazingly, Charlie also managed to be one of the only horses who didn't pick up any random nicks or dings along the ride. Birdie lost both her front shoes and some of the other horses had little scrapes here and there. But Charlie? Not a single mark anywhere. Go figure lol!

Such a fun day - I'm so glad the weather and abscess gods both were in our favor. Who knows what'll happen with that hoof come tomorrow or the next day - whether the abscess is actually gone or if it still has trouble in store for us.... But for now, I'm walking on air after an amazing ride with this incredible horse. Still don't know how I got so lucky with him <3

47 comments:

  1. That looks like sooo much fun!

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  2. God damn do I love Charlie!! Especially GALLOPING!! OMG!

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    1. Ha I pretty much am obsessed with him <3

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  3. wow you guys were bright :) HA.

    Glad you had a good time and glad Charlie stayed sound. Cause how bad would it have been to have to lead him back while wearing a tutu. Just not as bad ass as galloping him around :) HA great photos!

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    1. Lol yea I'm super relieved that he was fine too. I was fully prepared to walk back to the trailers at any moment if he seemed not ok but even at the end when he was tired he felt great!

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  4. Oh my gosh - you guys look so great! The tutus were perfect!

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    1. Thanks haha they worked out way better than we had even hoped!!

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  5. That video. Wow. The fun is so addictive even from a distance. Charlie <3

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    1. Omg it's so fun tho! You gotta come up for one of these! Griffin would fit right in with Little Foot who plays with both eventing and endurance!!

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  6. Awww yay! So glad everything cooperated so you could take Charlie on such a fun (and well-dressed!) outing 😁😁😁

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    1. i'm so glad it worked out too - and i think charlie really enjoyed himself!!

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  7. oh my god, that is amazing

    altho FOR SHAME on forgetting the purple tutu you BAD GIRL.

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    1. ugh i know i'm soooo annoyed with myself about that. blargh. and the purple one is still just sitting here on my dining room table mocking me. at least the yellow still looked pretty good too!

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  8. That sounds like so much fun! I'm nowhere near ready to try something like this with Tybee...maybe one day!! 😄

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    1. ha yea it can be a difficult setting for a young or very inexperienced horse - it's something worth building towards tho, even if it's smaller groups just doing more informal trail riding!

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  9. You guys are the best team out there! Paper chases/hunter paces are my favorite thing on the planet. I so wish I was closer to you guys and could join in!

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    1. omg that would be awesome tho!!!! this is one of the best ways to enjoy our horses as far as i'm concerned and it would be awesome to have a big blogger meet up paper chase haha

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  10. Oh my gosh I love this so much!! It makes my heart happy to read how in love you are with Sir Charles!

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    1. i'm pretty sure he's my favorite horse ever <3

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  11. OMG that looked like the most fun ever!!! I am so happy for you :D

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    1. so fun, i love events like these!!! such a great way to just get out there and enjoy the horses and company!

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  12. SO MUCH FUN <3 Charlie is THE BESTEST!!!

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  13. Love all the colors and it sounds like you had a blast. :-)

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  14. There's so much to love about this post! Your outfits are SO awesome! Looks like you guys had so much fun!

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    1. ha the outfits were ridiculously fun, even if we occasionally felt a little sheepish walking around with tutus on lol

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  15. Fun!!!!!!! God Charlie is just the best! You guys are a great team!

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    1. aw thanks!! i'm really enjoying his continued development!!

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  16. That video was awesome!! I loved it when you all were galloping together - looked like so much fun!

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    1. so much fun! and lots and lots of galloping!!

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  17. Yay Charles! He looked so happy out there jumping <3. And I love that gallop section! He was like "Charlie is on the outside, he put on a sudden burst of speed, he's passing the slow paint, HE'S COMING TO THE LEADERS - Oh, damn. Charlie has to slow down. Okay" LOL So adorable! Love him <3 Looks like such a blast!

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    1. haha actually the thing i love about him in a field of horses is that he *doesn't* get racing - doesn't try to zoom ahead or fall behind or anything. he just runs. just goes haha. it's actually a really cool feeling!!! <3

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  18. Hooray for paper chasing! It's a great time of year to get out and about with the ponies. We did the HCIB hunter pace (Aug 27) and took second in Low Optimum while jumping all the jumps with authority, even the ones that were downhill or uphill or somewhat scary. And I was all happy about that until my long-distance enthusiasm coach expressed surprise that we were still doing the 2' to 2'6" fences instead of maybe trying the 3' fences. I had to fess up that I hadn't ever tried 3' fences on the horse. And she was like "Whyever not?"

    I didn't feel like admitting to sheer terror as a limiting factor, so this weekend I built myself a little grid with poles and a one-stride combo and I started raising up the second element of the one-stride. Turns out da Bird does not blink at 3' while happily bopping over it and if I couldn't see the fence, I'd think it was a 2'6" fence because it feels identical. I've made a note and we will revisit this topic as appropriate through the fall season.

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    1. that's great to hear that the grids were so helpful for Bird! i definitely feel ya on lingering around the 2'6 height for ages. bc.... that's basically what i've done for my entire riding career lol and only just jumped 3' for the first time with isabel a couple winters ago. it's definitely usually a bigger deal for us as riders than it is for the horses haha. but that's ok - we just keep workin on it!

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  19. That looks like it was a BLAST!

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    1. i feel like Pilgrim would LOVE an outing like this too haha! so fun!

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  20. Wow that looks like so much fun. I cannot wait to move back to the east coast. Hunter paces are first on my agenda.

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    1. comeeeeeee to marylandddddddddd :D

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  21. I wish we had paper chases/hunter paces here. It would be super fun to ride in one.
    That feeling you always talk about that you get when you ride Charlie. I feel you. It's been so nice to ride a horse that makes me feel confident and comfortable. It's like I unlocked an achievement. :D

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  22. OMG SO much fun! I always think people who jump and gallop in groups are the bravest. Way to go!

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  23. That looked like such a good time! I miss hunter paces so much.

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  24. I so want to do something like this! Jealous and y'all look wonderful!

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