Tuesday, October 31, 2017

mean ol' dressage: Charlie edition

At the close of each season, I often like to reflect on where we've been and what we've done. You may have noticed that there has been a bit of a "recap / summary" theme to a lot of posts lately.

There's a couple different ways to slice and dice, to measure progress and plot Charlie's growth and development as an event horse.

handsome dressage horse
Today, I want to look at dressage. Charlie's final show of the year was by far his strongest. Over the course of the year he showed nothing if not steady improvement. Sometimes incremental, other times by leaps and bounds.

Overall, tho, what did the entire picture look like?

Test Ridden # Tests Average Score (Penalties)
USDF Intro B 3 64.8% (35.2%)
USDF Intro C 2 59.9% (40.1%)
USEF BN A 4 58.6% (41.4%)
USEF BN B 3 61.2% (38.8%)

looking the part is half the battle

Well? I reviewed the scores from the 12 judged tests* we rode in the past year. Directives from all the tests were categorized by gait and combined where possible, tho naturally some movements are scored meaningfully differently in different tests. Like, for instance, where the walk-trot transition score is combined with the score for turning down center line in USEF BN B.

I did my best tho to organize movements in a way that makes sense and can provide insight on Charlie's strengths and weaknesses in the dressage court, and how and where we've seen improvement over time.

*This excludes the first tests from Charlie's first ever shows: the Nov 2016 and March 2017 schooling dressage shows, where we rode the same test twice in a row. I only included the second test from each outing since the first tests were.... often more about just existing in a dressage court. 

Also worth noting: The trend lines below are not exactly in chronological order, as we switched back and forth a little bit between tests. It's close tho.



We enter well and set a good first impression, then fall apart a little bit. And life was decidedly better in USDF tests where our center line entrance was scored separately from that tricksy turn at C, instead of combined as they are in USEF tests.....

Usually by the end of the test, we're a little frazzled and just trying to survive in once piece. Strong collective marks suggest judges think we could do better tho.

Trot Work:

The left circle average is artificially suppressed from that one time we got a 4 (#stillbitter) but generally our circle scores are stronger than transitions.

The walk-trot transition is particularly an area for improved focus. That's a difficult move for us since it typically follows a free walk and shines a bright light on Charlie's resistance to me picking up the reins. This same aspect is then reflected in our submission score in the collectives.

Diagonal changes of rein are a strong spot and provide a nice boost to otherwise indifferent scores.

Walk Work:

Best score here naturally is one that doesn't get scored separately in eventing tests -- the medium walk. In eventing tests that score is often combined with the free walk score.

Charlie's got a great walk but we haven't been able to show it off to much advantage in these tests. I'm thinking it's still due in part to tension that arises when I go to pick my reins up after a free walk.

The free walk score itself is fine as a 6, but considering it's often the coefficient score in many eventing tests, it would behoove me to bring this score up. The horse has a good free walk -- we just need to brighten it up more. More march, more over step. Looser over the back.

Canter Work:

This is another area where Charlie's natural abilities haven't really been shown to their full potential. The horse has a great canter. But he's big and the small court called for in low level eventing is... small.

The scores stabilized and improved over the course of the season as the horse became stronger and more able to carry himself around 20m. Downward transitions merit more attention tho (the upward transition score was marred by some instances where we picked up the incorrect lead).


Charlie's gaits have always scored well (much to my surprise!) and most judges give me a reasonable rider score (tho, not all).

My impression from the collectives is that judges often think we haven't shown our true potential or ability in the dressage ring - that they think Charlie's got more to give.

In an ideal world, I'd like to see our average scores get closer to Charlie's gaits scores. Suggesting that the horse is executing each movement to the fullest measure of his own ability.

future elegant horse, right?

The big #1 finding from all this? Well? Charlie is pretty freakin' average as a dressage horse. He's not gonna wow the world. He's basically a solid 6, 6.5 on a good day.

But there are 7s lurking below the surface if I can tease them out. And, likewise, the 5s (and, ahem, 4s) are hiding in there too. We'll earn our best scores and continue to see improvement overall if I can focus on riding Charlie accurately and correctly through each movement and gait.

Over the course of this winter, I'd like to keep on plugging away at the work we've been doing. And looking forward to next year, I'd like to see more test scores that mirror Charlie's gait score. Meaning, if he gets a 6.5 on gaits, I'd like about a 65% on the whole test.

To that end, more movements from each test will have to reflect his best possible way of going, without interference by resistance to the bridle or tension over his back. We can dream, right?


Important Note: To all 2017 Two Point Challenge participants -- Final times are due by midnight tonight!! Do not forget to leave a comment letting me know your longest time! Winners will be announced before the end of the week!

Monday, October 30, 2017

things that make me happy: in pictures

Happy Monday, everyone! The general impression seems to be that Fall has officially descended on most states (excepting, naturally, the most southern and western among you) -- and in some case, winter has actually already arrived.

Normandale Lake in Minneapolis 
Things in Maryland are dialing up the wattage into full on gorgeous fall, finally.

duck butts!!!!
Unfortunately tho, we've been so dry for so long that the show probably won't be that impressive. Oh well. Can't complain too much about nice weather!

pretty pretty pretty
I've gotten to appreciate our mild temps tho by taking a brief foray up north to Minnesota for work. So sorry I missed you local bloggers!!! Next time for sure, as I'm up a couple times a year.

ermagerd eagle!!
For this time, tho, my work team was fairly well booked except for one gloriously free couple of hours spent wandering around a lake.

gosh i wish i had a better camera tho
Obviously I'm not the first horse person in the world to be like "wow nature is beautiful tho!" But yea, little wilderness breaks like these just make me feel so happy!

giiiiiiaaaaaaant tree stump
It's been especially tough lately too just bc I usually get my fix through trail rides and whatnot, but during Charlie's recovery that's been tricky. First bc .... well, obvi he was on stall rest. And then we didn't necessarily want to risk getting the site wet.

so pretty <3
But Charlie has since been cleared for all things walking: including up and down hills, over hill and dale, and through whatever streams may cross our paths.

shifting gears to the jaws theme song lol
Such a relief!!! I think Charlie has been appreciative of the time, too. I've actually been riding him for up to an hour or more -- walking all over the pace and even just standing around amid other friends as they ride.

these things are super convenient actually
Homeboy is officially off all his post-surgery meds too. Which like... Is kinda amazing to me. Poor guy has been on some sort of antibiotic, often with a painkiller too, for a while now.

fool proof dosage too
But he's free and clear again, which is great. Tho we'll keep the priobiotic train rolling for a little while longer just to help ensure his tummy stays healthy and happy (esp since he's still confined to stall rest).

These Probios gummies have been super convenient for our purposes. Slightly more expensive than the powder, but a safer bet when barn staff prefers pre-measured stuff.

only the best for sir!!
 (Also less likely to be murdered in cold blood if you have to pre-measure antibiotics AND probiotics into the same baggie for barn staff. I'm pretty sure Charlie's doxy straight up KO'd the probios powder I combined it with in baggies before realizing that maybe that wasn't a clever combination....)

aw but these two love each other
Anyway tho, Charlie continues to do well. We take a lot of walks. Nothing approximating "work" yet, but lots and lots of walks.

Both in hand and under saddle. It's especially gratifying to me to take him up in hand to the indoor and let him roll. Idk why haha, except that he REALLY seems to enjoy it. And naturally, in our most recent visit he very much enjoyed playing with the very very handsome pony on the other side of the wall.

They were fast friends indeed lol.

bc..... halloween?? oooooooh but those brown boots tho. those are intriguing indeed
Goofy pony. I swear, things he had never looked at when first turning into a riding horse are suddenly now new and intriguing as he rehabs. Maybe just bc he's bored out of his mind these days??? lol....

I've been keeping my own self busy with ponies lately too. In the best possible way!

hard to tell who is happiest in this picture
I hinted a few weeks ago that I had plans for HRH Princess Isabel and her lease rider, and those plans finally came to fruition: We went to a local schooling dressage show.

I'm pretty sure this was lease rider M's first time doing stuff with a horse off property (tho she may have done a lesson off property in the past, I'm not sure), but this was definitely her first real off property competition and first off property outing with Isabel.

Actually, it was Izzy's first off property outing since I ended my lease on her. So. Ya know. It had been awhile.

And? They slayed.

these two horses are both by Admiral (by Enzio), of Ann McKay's Arab sport horse breeding program. the bay's dam was a thoroughbred, whereas Izzy's dam was an Arab x QH cross
It's so apparent that Izzy just adores M - it's so special to watch!

these two tho, such a team!
M's got a deep appreciation for both Arabs and dressage. And she's got quite the knack for allowing Izzy all the space she needs to move forward, while still being able to ask her for shape.

izzy freakin loves her
And obviously it was super gratifying for me to spend the day with them and show M just how cool of a customer Izzy can be at shows. Bc yea, Isabel continues to be the quintessential show pony. She LOVES it. Loves showing off, loves doing her thang.

And M had no idea. Sure, she had seen it before -- but without really realizing. Now that she's experienced it as the rider herself tho.... Well. She may or may not have been bitten by the horse show bug. Here's hoping!!

ahhh but there's our charlie sir!
Meanwhile, we just keep on keepin on over in Charlieland.

happily out walking between rain showers
And like.... It's a whole different sense of gratification. Where you wake up on a gray and dreary Sunday morning and just do.not.feel like driving out to the barn.

But you do it anyway.

And then you see the horse. And the horse is good. He's sweet, and interested, and happy to see you. Happy to have the opportunity to escape his box.

we took the road less traveled. and that has made all the difference.
Like that feeling where as soon as you see the horse, it's instantly worth all the effort it took to get there. And naturally we headed right on out for the trails.

photo doesn't do justice to the vividness of these yellow leaves
Charlie is still very much in a..... sassy period in his life haha. Hard to be anything else when you're a TB confined to a stall 24/7. But it's still so good for him to get out, even if it's just for half an hour. And it's good for me, too. Definitely counts as a thing that makes me happy haha.

happy charlie can't stand still for pictures
And so we keep on plugging away. Lots to be happy about for now, and lots more to look forward to. Hope you all had a pleasant and fun weekend as well!!!

Friday, October 27, 2017

the audacity of a plan

There will always be a commonly held belief that sometimes it's better not to have rigid plans or expectations. That sometimes it's better to fly by the seat of your pants, taking life and each day as it comes. That sometimes a plan can be too limiting. Or can lead us to act or make choices bc that's what the plan says to do, even if maybe the circumstances aren't quite right. 

loch moy ct in march
I understand this completely. It's certainly easier and safer than risking feeling disappointed or let down when the plan doesn't pay off. Or when it has to be re-imagined or abandoned altogether. The anticlimactic end of this year's season has been yet another lesson on the subject. And it's horses, after all. Horses live by their own rules.

loch moy ht in april
What can I say, tho, but that I'm a planner? 

I have two main fundamental reasons for this. 

1) You don't get where I want to go by accident. Luck alone won't get me there either. 

While my long long term riding goals may be murky and vague, I've got a pretty clear sense of where I want to be in the shorter term: Where I was when Isabel and I were at our peak. When I felt my strongest and most capable as a rider, and we had just moved up to novice.

I want that feeling back, and I want to jump bigger fences and jump them well. And there is absolutely no substitute for hard work and practice in getting there. This includes making time for lessons. Making time for schooling. And creating benchmarks along the way to gauge progress. 

loch moy ht in april
Am I a stronger rider today than I was a month ago? Am I making better choices? And is it consistent? If I run through the same exercise 5 times, how reliably can we execute it correctly? 

All of this requires planning, especially when considering the reality that my mental game is a huge factor. For me to be successful over 'bigger' fences, I have to feel strong and secure in the saddle. But I also have to have enough practice and mileage at the height to make it feel more routine, mundane even. This takes time. And..... time takes planning. 

fair hill in may
2) There's something to be said for positive anticipation. We often dwell on the negatives of angst and anxiety, but forget how powerful positive anticipation and expectation can be. 

Years ago I read some study finding that people were often as happy (or happier!) in the days leading up to a vacation as they were during the vacation itself. That the brain, in anticipating a positive, happy thing, can actually experience an increase in happiness just by expecting future happiness. 

jenny camp in may
In other words, all that mumbo jumbo about visualizing success and happiness can be very real. The more I can create tangible, well defined progressive steps that take me ever closer to where I want to be (even if each step seems small or insignificant when taken by itself), the easier it is for me to imagine reaching that ultimate goal. 

And naturally, if I've done my homework in developing my goals -- the goal should be something specifically formulated to bring me happiness upon reaching it (otherwise uh.... what's the point, right?). 

loch moy in may
Thus we get back to my initial point: even the act of planning itself is often just as important to me as slowly ticking off those boxes, carrying out those plans, reaching those intermediary milestones, and ultimately reaching a goal. 

The downside, tho, is that an unwelcome change of plans therefore has equal power to make me feel somewhat robbed of that joy. To make that distant goal feel even more out of reach. 

tranquility in june
And.... yea. This is a struggle for me. It's hard to experience disappointment like that. And I feel like I've had my fair share of broken plans in the past couple years. Breaking my leg the day before our third novice (with a fourth already on the calendar). Then facing the dissolution of my competitive partnership with Isabel. And more recently, all those nagging minuscule lamenesses with Charlie ultimately preceding his surgery and the forfeiture of our fall plans. 

But that's mostly an attitude thing, I think. And my answer to broken plans must be to just... ya know, make a new plan in light of new circumstances lol. And so the cycle repeats!

tranquility in june
I had pretty grand plans for this year, too. Hard to say whether they were called for or not. Realistic or delusional. Idk. They were ambitious tho, for sure. 

The general scaffolding of my plan for Charlie's first year as an event horse was basically in two parts. Only Part 1 was mostly fleshed out going into the year, with the expectation to build out Part 2 after a "summer recess."

Part 1:

March: We introduced Charlie to the sport through an 18" CT at Loch Moy. This went off without a hitch, and we probably could have gotten through the xc phase had I been inclined to push it. 

April: We returned to Loch Moy for the full three phases at 2'3. The height was easy and while Charlie was green, he was a very very good boy.

May: This month saw us kick into high gear. Charlie ran another full HT at Fair Hill, this time at 18" since the 2'3 course included elements we hadn't schooled yet. But then we got our money's worth with what amounted to a modified BN course at Jenny Camp, and finished the month with a way-too-easy cruise around Loch Moy's 2'3 again.

June: Charlie faced his first BN at Tranquility. The jumps (which were not as soft as I anticipated) posed no problems, but water was still unreliable and needed schooling.

July: We concluded Part 1 of the season with another 2'3 run at Fair Hill. This would be Charlie's final sub-BN event. He had by this point fully demonstrated an understanding of all three phases, including questions like ditches and water on xc. 

fair hill in september
A brief summer "recess" provided us the opportunity to review and evaluate how Charlie was doing in his training. Verdict? Homeboy was doing well

If anything, Part 1 of my Grand Plan was probably more conservative than it needed to be. But I was adamant: we were all about building confidence and laying the foundation so that the horse had, in some form or another, seen much of what low level eventing has to offer. And that it felt easy and unimpressive to him. That he could get the answers right even when I messed up.

Because. Where Part 1 was conservative and maybe unnecessarily slow paced in moving the horse up, Part 2 was gonna be straight up balls to the wall. Obvi we only got through our first event of this plan tho so.... Ya know. It didn't go down the way I wanted. But here's the plan anyway, in all it's glory:

fair hill in september
Part 2:

September: Back to Fair Hill for their BN course. I expected and hoped for a meaty beefy chunky monkey course and.... it ended up being a lot softer than anything I'd ever seen at this venue before. Le sigh. The course also rode a little greener than I expected due to time off leading up to the event. 

Right away, the wheels on my PLAN had gotten a little wonky. They then immediately came all the way off and Charlie had surgery. Womp womp womp. 

Had that not happened tho, we would have proceeded as such:

Also September: Another BN run at our home barn, where I hoped to school some of the N while I was at it, considering I didn't care much about competing against my barn mates and would have been fine with the TE if it meant getting competition mileage over N elements.

October: BN at Loch Moy, whose BN courses I had been eyeing longingly all season. I went to this show anyway to groom for Brita and Rachael and was admittedly pretty blue when I saw just how awesome the BN course looked too. It would have been perfect -- actually, much of the N looked pretty freakin great too. 

November: Novice at Loch Moy. Yep. 

That had been the plan since.... well, June, actually. And as of September, we felt so close. So close. Alas. 'Twasn't to be!

In hindsight, knowing how the season ended, I honestly feel a twinge of regret at taking things so slowly with the horse when he was so clearly capable of more. I console myself tho by saying this slow, careful and systematic approach was instrumental in developing Charlie into the uncomplicated partner he is today. 

He is green, yes. But he also honestly knows his job at a fundamental level. And the fact that N felt attainable and within reach just one year after restarting him from the track... Well. Obviously we didn't actually get there. 

But it's still heartening when looking forward to next year and beyond.

And so. I keep planning.


Are you likewise a planner? Do you like to have a clear sense of how an event or series of events might unfold? Do you like to sketch out the bones of a season or time frame in advance, or create a road map of sorts about where you're going and how, exactly, you'll get there?

Or are you the opposite -- choosing instead to take each day as a new day, come what may? Perhaps your longer (or shorter!) term goals are less reliant on tangible outcomes such as competitive results? Like maybe your goals are more about enjoying the time spent with your horse? And any sort of rigid structure creates more stress or pressure than you feel is warranted?

Maybe you fall somewhere in between? Depending on time of year or where you are in your relationship with your horse? Or maybe you think I'm way overthinking this whole thing and should probably just chill the F out and enjoy the moment?? lol...

Thursday, October 26, 2017

tick tock: week 3 2ptober is closing!

Alright everybody, I'm starting to get a litttttle bit concerned by the lack of two point times rolling in!!

Thanks very much to those of you who have been so diligent in your reporting. And actually - despite the low turnout in terms of participation, those of you who are making it happen are really laying down some BIG times!

Rider Blog Baseline Max Time % Improved
Aimee SprinklerBandits 2:13 2:13 0%
Alex TheHorseDream 0:22 1:53 414%
Amanda Bel Joeor 0:25 5:35 1240%
Anxious Eventer Anxious Eventer 2:36 2:36 0%
Bee Tea Riding to B 3:00 3:00 0%
Beth A Truby in Tucson 0:23 1:41 339%
Britt A House on a Hill 5:04 5:04 0%
Chelsey Horseback Writing 2:47 2:47 0%
Emily Frank 5:38 13:58 148%
Fig Topaz Dreams 0:07 0:31 343%
Holly Marescara 2:02 5:42 180%
J. Alexander It's Cosmic 2:00 11:01 451%
Kaity The Repurposed Horse 4:07 9:15 125%
KateRose Peace & Carrots 2:24 2:24 0%
KC The Pilgrim Chronicles 2:37 8:31 225%
L Williams Viva Carlos 5:25 20:25 277%
Laura Anne 1:11 2:05 76%
Maddy CTR+Halt+DEL 1:15 3:15 160%
Mandy The Everything Pony 3:00 8:00 167%
Megan Phoebe the Freebie 0:20 4:03 1115%
Megan K Go Big or Go Home 3:13 3:13 0%
Molly One Bud Wiser 2:09 4:11 95%
Nadia 3day adventures with horses 4:40 6:15 34%
Niamh Misadventures of a girl and her OTTB 2:43 3:17 21%
Nicole Sharp Zen Baby 1:58 1:58
Olivia DIY Horse Ownership 1:17 1:17 0%
Sara The Roaming Rider 0:32 1:22 156%
SarahO Autonomous Dressage 2:05 2:05 0%
SarahW My Red Mare 2:00 2:00 0%
Teresa Journey with a Dancing Horse 1:44 8:00 362%
Tracy Fly On Over 1:45 1:45 0%

We've seen a pretty giant uptick in the average longest held 2pt time - pretty darn close to 5min now! That's a huge improvement from the starting time of 2min. Congrats everybody!

Naturally there are a few who stand out among the crowd, with a bit of a shakeup in the leader board since last week.

Top 5 by longest time:
L Williams
Emily Frank
J. Alexander

The most improved category keeps on chipping ever onward too, with the placings held fairly steady since last week with just a little bit of reshuffling.

Top 5 by most improvement:
J. Alexander

There's still time tho to get your time in and make it count! Final longest times are due by next Tuesday Oct 31, by midnight. And remember, we've got some serious prizes on the line for those who are willing to really go for it!!

you're gonna need that aspirin lol

Blogger-shaming Edition -- No change shown:
Anxious Eventer
Bee Tea
Megan K
Nicole Sharp


So don't forget: Just one last weekend and a couple days left to make a final push for 2pt Champion 2017!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

krimpet 2.0: xc schooling deja vu

Even before our impromptu mini xc school last week, Brita and I had been planning a low key outing with barn mates this past weekend. Some of the friends would just be hacking, but some of us would also be getting in some solid schooling practice.

how could this face ever get in trouble tho??
After feeling like Velvet had done pretty well with the earlier school, I started thinking about how to build on that. And particularly, how to address her issue of needing to stop and look at everything first before jumping.

we had ourselves a little party!
But like. Idk. I think I'm hexed or something. Little black pony mares (even tho Velvet's more "tank" than "pony") do not seem to do me many favors on the xc field. And in fact, really any time I try to up the ante on anybody else's horse (like Gogo, Krimpet and Lion of last year's fame), I seem to maybe end up getting more than I bargained for.

pictured: behind leg. always and forever lol
It's cool tho. As L. Williams tactfully reminded me: If you are taking risks then yea, you'll fall off. Taking risks pushes you out of your comfort zone to help make you a better rider.

One day, L, one day I'm gonna be a real good rider for taking so many risks on backyard ponies over 2' fences!!! ;P

still #goodwithdogs tho!
I digress tho. Away we went schooling on what was really a gorgeous beautiful October day in Maryland. With a fun group of friends. Ain't no complaining about that! Velvet actually warmed up pretty well too - I showed her our first log and she jumped it pretty well fine.

Then we went right on over to the little roll top from last week, which I'm pretty sure I also showed her, tho I'm not positive. Naughty mare ran out of it tho in a somewhat nasty way. Last week she'd skitter to a shaky stop at the jump (which obvi I didn't like) but the running out thing is.... really not cool in my book. So we had words about that and reapproached it to clear it no problem, tho jumping it once more for good measure.

ooooooh gurl. it's one thing to stop and look at a fence, but running out is crossing a line. 
I was still pretty fixated on the idea of building off the work she had done in our previous outing tho, and on the idea of getting Velvet over fences on the first try. After chatting with Brita about it, I opted to aim the pony back at that itsy box we had jumped well (after an initial stop) last time.

bc reasons. at least i was holding the neck strap?
And darn it if that pony didn't just like... teleport out from underneath me. One second she was evenly between all my aids (well, ok, she was behind my leg, but at least mostly laterally even if not longitudinally). And the next? I was staring at her from the ground as she tried (and failed) to beat a hasty retreat. Rotten thing!

pictured: still behind the leg. but now that leg is angry lol
Run outs, man. They're just not cool. Maybe other riders would have stuck that bob-n-weave type move... But idk.... it felt pretty dirty and it looks pretty dirty in the helmet cam footage too.

remedial logs
This is how horses like Velvet kinda operate. They get all zippy and hot to the aids to the point where riders want to take their legs off - but at the same time she had zero problems running through both my spur and crop pushed against that bulgy right hand side. Sorry Velvet but you can't have it both ways.

thing we did *not* stop at tho
In any case we went back to our little warm up log that I made her school from both leads (princess no likey jumping from the left lead) and both toward and away from the other horses. Not every jump was perfect, but she did it every time.

We then moved right on along back on track to jumping other stuff. Tho I admit to kinda giving up on making her jump everything sight-unseen. So I showed her the fences first, then approached to jump them. This proved effective and we had no more stops (or run outs) for the day.

and another thing we did not stop at!
The purist in me was very dissatisfied with this method, but the realist in me was very disinclined to have another unplanned dismount.

The optimist in me (a small but hopeful voice!) tho appreciated that, ya know, the horse is just plain green and any mileage without a refusal can only be a positive thing. Maybe she's done this stuff before, but she has had no consistency in her life and it's maybe unfair to expect her to build at the same pace as a horse who is accustomed to a training program.

So if showing her the fences before jumping them helps her understand and ensures that she does, in fact, jump each and every time she is asked to jump.... well. That's gotta count for something right? (tho my inner cynic {a cranky screechy voice} might think it amounts to enabling and coddling the horse...)

thing we didn't even have to look at before jumping! #growingup
Anyway tho we just kept on moving right on along with the plans. Tackling new fences we hadn't seen last time, and actually doing some stuff in the water. I was particularly proud of Velvet through the water bc she jumped the log very well and without question despite not actually being specifically shown it in advance (tho we did do a drive by of trotting through the water first).

more logs tho. lol @ my right side spur aimed directly at her heart
I wondered if making her trot that fence had something to do with it - more processing time? Idk. Her trot is not great tho and she somehow gets even more behind my leg in that gait so I'm not sure our answer lies in trotting fences forever. Food for thought tho!

and another log plus one distrustful rider
We kept moving about the fields tho esp as our other riding buddies schooled their more advanced horses over more interesting things. Most of what was left for me and Velvet were more of the same logs. Going into the outing I had anticipated maybe trying some of the BN variations of these logs... but by the end of the ride I was more interested in just preventing any more mistakes.

finishing over yet another jump we didn't look at first. like she's almost an adult. almost. 
She was good tho. We practiced a little cantering through the fields (during which she cruised smooth as silk right up until she spooked sideways, inverted and went behind the leg again.... #workinprogress) and then we finished by putting a couple logs together in a row - including the candy cane (not in the video) and the white jump above, both of which she did not get to look at before we jumped them.

Sure, they were both very small fences. But like. I'm determined to see the positive of her just jumping them without question. Small wins, ya know?

On one hand it's tough bc this type of ride doesn't do very much for me in my constant struggle to be more trusting in my riding style - to let go more and ride more forward. If anything, it makes it easier for me to rationalize holding and shutting the horse down. Which is arguably counter productive.

On the other hand tho, it was useful experience in pushing on when things went a little sideways (omg literally) and working on problem solving. Because, in fact, the fall was our final refusal of the day even tho we kept on jumping for a while after that.

To me, that counts as a win. It wasn't the type of win I hoped for from the day. And it may have taken some determined processing and introspection to arrive at this conclusion (rather than just like, going on an expletive-laden rant about black pony mares everywhere lol).

But ya know. C'est la vie, right? And naturally at least I can let my fail be your win with yet another masterpiece of Emma eating shit caught on video. Enjoy!