Monday, December 31, 2018

year end link roundup

Phew, the end is nearly here haha. Hope everyone is enjoying some down time this long holiday weekend! And, on the off chance that you're looking for anything entertaining to read, here's a roundup of fun links from this past year based on total views and comments.

Happy browsing and Happy New Year!

Top 10 Most Viewed Posts

1 winter's got me #triggered
2 don't believe the hype: too cold to ride?
3 now boarding the struggle bus
4 a conversation with myself, sorta
5 let's talk: good reads
6 wherein Charlie discovers the launch codes
7 the problem with gimmicks
8 some things are worth melting for
9 Ralph Hill Clinic: Position to Movement
10 twilight eventing!

1) A rant on how winter really truly probably won't kill your horse, honest to god; 2) Another rant on how winter really truly probably won't kill your horse, seriously tho guys; 3) Sometimes we have bad jump lessons.....; 4) Ya gotta stick with this one thru the end - it's brutal; 5) I <3 the equestrian blogosphere tho!; 6) Pretty sure this got so much traffic bc ppl assumed the title meant I fell off. Spoiler: I didn't; 7) Another rant on how you're really truly probably not gonna kill your horse by making choices that work within your means, and don't listen to anybody who tells you any different!; 8) Mmmmm new saddles <3; 9) Fun clinic and detailed recap!; and 10) Fun schooling event with plenty of media!

Top 10 Most Commented Posts

1 like a shot in the arm
2 let's talk: good reads
3 don't believe the hype: too cold to ride?
4 winter's got me #triggered
5 a conversation with myself, sorta
6 The Hulsebos Zadel Re-Fit Experience
7 the problem with gimmicks
8 a lesson to learn, a day to forget
9 the game's afoot
10 Charlie's 1st Novice: Dressage

1) Charlie stepped on a 4" roofing nail, much to everyone's extreme horror; 2) I <3 the equestrian blogosphere tho!; 3) A rant on how winter really truly probably won't kill your horse, honest to god; 4) Another rant on how winter really truly probably won't kill your horse, seriously tho guys; 5) Ya gotta stick with this one thru the end - it's brutal; 6) Super cool + detailed description of full blown saddle surgery; 7) Another rant on how you're really truly probably not gonna kill your horse by making choices that work within your means, and don't listen to anybody who tells you any different!; 8) We had a really really really bad event at Plantation. Yep there's video too!; 9) Ugh the fallout from that roofing nail was intense; and 10) Charlie moved up to Novice and Austen took 8,000+ gorgeous pictures!

In Case You Missed It!

1 deconstructing the course walk (with technology!)
2 Fair Hill CCI2/3* Cross Country!!
3 Fair Hill CIC 1* Cross Country!!
4 this looks 'shopped
5 my favorite horse show volunteer jobs
6 FEH East Coast Championships: Conformation

1) Using free apps to improve the course walking experience; 2) Upper level cross country compilation!!!; 3) Another upper level cross country compilation!! But this one at a maybe slightly more accessible level!!; 4) It looks 'shopped bc it IS 'shopped MS Painted; 5) If you're interested in getting more involved with volunteering at horse shows, there might be some useful info here for ya; and 6) Frisky + fancy baby horses in the rain!

Top 10 Watched YouTube Videos

1 MDHT Open Intermediate XC Compilation 07142018
2 Charlie BN-A Dressage - MDHT #1 03252018
3 Charlie - Arena XC Schooling @ MDHT 11252018
4 Charlie Plantation N XC 06102018
5 Charlie BN XC - MDHT #1 03252018
6 Charlie Novice Cross Country @ MCTA Jenny Camp 08122018
7 Charlie Hunter Pace @ Tranquility 09022018
8 Charlie jump lesson 08112018
9 Charlie Novice xc clips @ MCTA Jenny Camp 08120218
10 Charlie BN Stadium - MDHT #1 03252018

1) Gosh but I love my upper level XC video compilations; 2) Not sure why this got so many views -- it's a boring test on frozen footing. For some reason YouTube loves our worst dressage tests....; 3) Oooh this was baller tho - jumping training level xc fences in an arena!; 4) Yea this would be that video of us completely melting down on cross country....; 5) Ha and on the opposite end of the spectrum, here's 5 minutes of me getting run away with; 6) Charlie's triumphant return to Novice XC - it was awesome; 7) Super fun hunter pace bc why not!; 8) Just a normal lesson, except Charlie looked like one million dollars cruisin around 3'3+ courses; 9) Non-helmet cam video clips from our third Novice XC run!; and 10) Charlie's final BN stadium round this past spring.

ICYMI: Video Edition!

1 Charlie Novice XC @ OF 09302018 CLIPS
2 Fair Hill CCI2* Cross Country Compilation 2018
3 Charlie encounters frog songs
4 Charlie Novice XC @ OF 09302018 - Helmet Cam
5 Waredaca Classic 3 Day Event Compilation - P T & N 10262018
6 Charlie & Iggy chillin in the stream

1) More non-helmet cam xc clips for those of you who don't like helmet cam videos. Can't remember if I posted this one but it's real fun!; 2) This 2* xc compilation got overshadowed by the 3* video posted on the same day, but it deserves a second look for sure!; 3) Lol just Charlie spookin at some noisy singing frogs....; 4) It's an absolute travesty that this video didn't get many views - we actually won this event too. Who on earth knows when (if) that will ever happen again!; 5) Fun compilation of P, T & N riders out there giving it there all in the annual classic long format event; 6) more silly footage of my silly horse being... silly.

That's a wrap!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

some things never change

It will take zero convincing for you all to believe that, to me, Charlie is perfect.

March 2017. pc Liz Stout
He's my best boy, my super horse. The world is his oyster, provided I can manage to hang on for the ride.

April 2017. pc GRC
Charlie has been magnificently consistent in some of the most important aspects haha. He's brave, uncomplicated, and remarkably ambitious even in the face of seemingly small tasks. 

December 2018. pc The Blessed Souls Who Had Faith We Would Not Die
God bless, Chuck. Never change.

Here's to a happy new year ;)

Friday, December 28, 2018

tied up with a bow

Alright everyone, 2018 is coming to a close and many of us have spent the last few weeks reflecting on the last 12 months. Obviously you've already seen my posts reviewing the year month-by-month (part 1 and part 2), so I won't rehash all that.

it's all about this guy
Suffice it to say, tho, that 2018 was a monumental year for me and Charlie. It was punctuated by goal setting on a quarterly basis: including a fresh set of goals each quarter, and check-ins on overarching goals set for the year.

The quarterly goals were a useful exercise, but probably not something I'll repeat. They're not quite as future-thinking as I'd like. That said tho, it was a useful way to ensure everything moved in the right direction, and a good way to stay mindful of Charlie's and my immediate futures. So let's do a quick review of the 4th quarter:

pictures of ponies, bc charlie luvs them
4th Quarter Goals:
  • I'd like to make it out to one last event. -- I was just about to mail in the check for Waredaca's fall starter before Charlie's splint blow up. Finally - a scratched event where I DIDN'T have to eat the costs!
  • Plus a couple other non-horse-trial events. Plans are afoot for this already, much excitement! -- We did a bunch of fun stuff - like the Elkridge Harford Hunter Trials, xc schooling, and a show jumping clinic with Phillip Dutton!
  • Maybe a dressage schooling show too? Not so sure about this one.... -- Not this time. Maybe this winter?
  • I have a TON of schooling passes from volunteering so I need to find a way to use those too. -- Check! Finally got out to school on the arena derby courses!!
  • Fox hunting???? It's on the list every year but somehow still haven't made it happen... -- Do the hunter trials count? Sorta kinda??
  • Plan ahead for schedule adjustments after the clocks change -- might be time to get back on the books for at least one or two morning rides a week. -- Haven't changed schedules yet, but the longest winter months are still ahead of us...
  • I'd like to give Charlie a 2-ish week break sometime in the next 6-12wks. It'll depend a little bit on the calendar, but something to keep in mind. -- Ha. Hahahaha. Maybe Charlie's reading my goals?? He totally got about a month off this quarter bc of his splint blow up. All told, it was closer to 6 weeks if you include the lost shoe and then the eye injury.... No more vacation, Chuck! 
  • Keep an eye on Charlie's weight once they switch from pasture to round bales for the winter - adjust feed if necessary. -- They haven't switched fields yet... 
  • Get a head start on my annual "Best Of" and "Blooper Reel" videos lol.... -- Yesssss, this video was definitely one of my favorites <3
  • And. Ya know. Whatever else looks like fun. Fall is the best riding season, so hopefully we'll get to enjoy it! -- Despite the unplanned time off, we've definitely had a pretty excellent fall <3

he likes goose the pig too!
So a successful fourth quarter. More than the above, tho, reflecting on 2018 is all about my year long goals. Writing these goals down last January felt.... equal parts ambitious and crazy.

At that time Charlie was just getting back into the swing of things following his surgery. His first season as an event horse had been cut short after only his second BN. And I was still grappling with my own demons and feelings of self doubt.

But Charlie.... He's a special horse, ya know? There's something almost futuristic about him. It's so easy to believe in him. So easy to dream big.

So even tho last December it took every ounce of grit and determination I could muster to force myself to school my horse around 2'3-2'6 fences... And even tho Charlie's inner brontosaurus was rearing (literally) his ugly head in our dressage schools, getting mired down in all manner of fresh new deep dark tar pits (later determined to be due to saddle fit issues)....

Despite all that, I sat down and wrote out the following goals for the year. Which can basically summarized as: Finish the year confidently schooling 3'3 fences and 1st level dressage. Plus all the other fun little experiences that happen in between.

really tho, it's all about those shetlands <3
So. How did we do??

  • Move up to Novice by Q2-Q3.  Check! 
  • Do a recognized show, level not important - timing of this depends on schedule of friends who need recognized shows for qualifications purposes for their own goals. Maybe next year...
  • School some of training by Q3, ideally full height elements but smaller sized technical questions are acceptable. Charlie is very comfortable with T sized fences on xc and in the show jumping ring. Can't ask for more than that!
  • Research options for an "adult event camp." My ideas around this honestly weren't really fully baked...
  • Schedule a clinic(s) with Dan at OF. Organizing a clinic is extremely challenging, tho it's something I still want to do. Until then, I've settled for a normal lesson -- and it was totally awesome. Oooh and I maybe signed up for a clinic with him elsewhere?!? ***foreshadowing***
  • Keep the horse on a regular massage and/or chiro schedule as needed. Charlie is sound of body and mind right now, even as I've had to tighten up the budget...
  • School the bejesus out of our cross country course at home. No excuses! Also make trips to other venues - Windurra, I'm looking at you! Down banks in particular need attention. We only schooled our home course maybe half a dozen times, but made it out to Shawan Downs, Windurra and Loch Moy too! Still need to work on down banks tho haha. 

in a way, he's kinda like snow white haha
  • Continue developing flatwork. Would like to be passably schooling all of first level by Q3. Would like to finish at least one event on my dressage score, and would like the dressage scores to be competitive. Charlie continues to impress me with his workmanlike attitude on the flat. He's never going to be flashy like Isabel, but he can be consistent and he can be correct. That's plenty sufficient for laying down some competitive tests!
  • Trail ride at Fair Hill!! Ideally with other bloggers! So fun!
  • Volunteer. A lot. Look for opportunities monthly, and aim for doing some type of event volunteering in 7 of 12 months. I had a freakin amazing time volunteering this year, and logged somewhere around 80 hours. 
  • Try to maintain at least some microscopic degree of poise if there are setbacks. No matter what, have fun! I was better here this year compared to last year. 
  • Be the type of competitor my friends enjoy being around at shows. And be my friends' biggest cheerleader. Nothing has revolutionized my horse habit quite like having great friends to share it with - don't take this for granted! Horse showing is always more fun with friends, and it's rare that I have an empty spot in my trailer!
  • Keep the blog going: this space has been so meaningful to me, both as a means of documenting all of my horsey escapades but also as a way to participate in the wonderful equine bloglandia. Y'all are great! The blog lives on.

just a sociable sweet horse <3
Not every goal was accomplished exactly the way I expected. Plus there was so much more that happened that I couldn't have expected or predicted (both good and bad). But overall, I'm really really happy with how 2018 went. And just so so so grateful for Charlie <3

I've got some thoughts and ideas about how I want to address goal setting for the coming year too - it will be a little different than the above. But it's not fully baked yet, so stay tuned for more.

In the meantime, Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

winter bootcamp: rider edition

This post may be a little silly to write.... maybe a bit like tempting fate... Bc let's be real, my riding schedule is at the mercy of Charlie and his habitual little dings and dents. The whole reason this is an issue in the first place is kinda Charlie's fault anyway, tbh.

today's photo collection's theme? the many outfits of charlie haha
But let's back up a second, and talk about winter boot camp. It's that time of year when winter really seems to settle in and get comfortable. Even tho we're on the other side of the winter solstice, it'll still be months before there's any real daylight for riding after working hours. And until then, the ground is likely to swing between muddy bog-like conditions and frozen solid.

like his current standard jump school outfit: jump saddle + dressage bridle
So for the foreseeable future, most of our rides take place by necessity at nighttime - either in the darkly lit outdoor arenas if the footing allows, or in the small dusty indoor. I'm grateful for both the lights and the indoor, don't get me wrong, but it creates limits on what can be accomplished during the rides.

Plus it's maddeningly repetitive. Overtime, the whole experience begins to look sorta like Sisyphus and his rock....

gosh it's hard to get all of him in a single frame tho lol
Many riders use this off season to focus on ironing out whatever training kinks were uncovered in the past months. For instance, you've already read posts like this one that go through a quantitative assessment of our season's dressage tests to identify weak spots. Those issues (transitions! bigger trot!) provide the perfect fodder for low key winter schooling.

here he's dressed for hacking on a cold ass mother fucking windy day: jump saddle + hackamore + quarter sheet. fun fact: the quarter sheet makes it seem like you're wearing a cape when you go galloping across the wide open fields
Likewise, I also got a couple ideas from the show jumping clinic with Phillip Dutton for our jumping. Specifically: carrying a bigger stride (not dissimilar from needing a bigger trot in our dressage too) and maintaining that stride length while bending left.

sometimes a pony's just gotta go a-wanderin tho
There's something else tho that I'm starting to think is maybe more important. Like, yea obviously I always want to be working on Charlie's training. But I already know from experience with him that.... he retains things pretty darn well. And that even lengthy breaks from serious training (like when he rehabbed from surgery last year) don't seem to interfere with his training progress.

hai goat! hai sheep!
Rather, the thing that's likelier to slow us down is my own weakness or ineffectiveness. Bc you see, every time Charlie gets a week off here or there, uh, so do I.

And nobody has ever EVER confused me with some svelte athletic TB that can put on fitness at the drop of a hat. Ha. Haha. Hahahahaha. Ahem. Cough cough.

typical dressage skool outfit: dressage bridle + saddle + fuzzy ps of sweden boots
So lately (I say "Lately" bc I'm just pretending the hoof-babadook and recent ouchie eye never happened, even tho there went another clump of days spent out of the tack...) I'm trying to focus on a few simple and key objectives.

Number 1? Go ride the f'in horse. Even if it's dark, cold, wet out, or I just plain old don't feel like picking at the scabs of any of our recent training issues. Just go do it. I almost never regret it after it's done... but damn sometimes getting out the door is such a challenge!

"reading the news"
And when I do ride? I'm kinda riding Charlie a little bit like a school pony. Like there are a couple basic things that I must always be disciplined about in Charlieland (for instance, he's not allowed to ever ever ever suck behind my leg).

But for the most part, I kinda just aim to put him in a gear and let him hum right on along, rather than trying to ride him in a specific way or carriage. I just ask for walk, trot, or canter, and leave it at that. This is aided by using all manner of ground poles and turns and figures etc to keep him interested.

proud pony after slayin the trot pole dragon haha, wearing the reflective + LED light up Illumiseen breastplate that i'm obsessed with
Meanwhile, all the focus is on me. If I'm in the dressage saddle, I'm thinking about:

- Are my legs long? Loose or pinching or clinging?
- Am I sitting evenly in the saddle?
- Is my core engaged, with belt buckle lifted, or am I holding that tension in my back instead?
- Is my chest open, with arms hanging loosely down from my shoulders? Can I feel that openness where my clavicles meet, or am I rounded across my back?
- Are my shoulders relatively even or am I collapsing to the inside?

ahem, tryna steal someone else's can of peanuts....
And ya know, that's kinda just.... it haha. Over and over and over again for the entire ride. Looking to see if anything changes when we ride a circle vs go straight. Or when we transition, up or down. Like for instance I tend to tip forward and drop the front of my pelvis in a downward transition. Maybe before I drill Chuck on his shittastic downward transitions, I should... ya know.... fix myself haha.

Oooh and I also dropped my stirrups a hole for shits and giggles, and am starting to work more on sitting trot. Because I hate myself, apparently. Wow. Yea it's real real real bad. But I guess we gotta start somewhere?

more jump tack indoor shenanigans, but this time with the hackamore again to ensure i don't get baited into picking at anything
If I'm in my jump saddle a lot of the above holds true, obvi, tho the focus changes a little bit. My jump saddle tips my pelvis more forward (which is part of why I can't fucking sit the canter in that saddle to save my life) so some of my own bio-mechanical things are harder to work on.

Conversely tho, that saddle lends itself perfectly to more rider fitness work like double posting (yup, it's official, I actually *do* hate myself apparently) and two point, forever and ever amen.

And again, Charlie is mostly left to his own devices during all of this. Usually with the aid of ground poles, cavalleti, and small jumps set hither and thither (generally diagonals and bending lines are the most versatile) to give him something to aim for.

thoroughbred ears pricked so hard tho. hint: this ride was replete with much galloping lol
To be perfectly honest? It's actually been pretty fun! Focusing on just my own self has in a weird way taken off a lot of pressure. Like when I'm sitting at home finishing up work and it's already dark and I know there's gonna be a lot of traffic and do I really feel like driving for 50 minutes just to ride around 20m circles in the dark fussing with my horse about shortening and lengthening his stride while staying round and in front of my leg and blah blah blah blah. Like, this time of year the answer to those questions is very often No!

But change it around to : Eh, I'm gonna go out there and let my horse w-t-c hisself around the ring, doin his own little version of conditioning work, while I just try to be stronger as a rider? Sure, why not, right? Sounds kinda refreshing, honestly!

fly mask tho bc poor watery eye lol
It's definitely helping, too. I finally got Charlie out hacking post-eye injury yesterday, and homeboy was hot to trot omg. There are a couple places we usually "gallop" -- often meaning a sedate canter, sometimes more of a hand gallop. Yesterday tho? Yea. Charlie was flat out like he's never been before. And when we suddenly flushed a giant mother fucking vulture that I thought for sure was gonna try to take my head off, and Charlie went skittering sideways across the field at a gallop?? Boom, I totally didn't fall all the way off. Yessssssss haha.

So I'll try to keep it up. This time of year is so crappy, so hard to stay motivated. It's dark and it's cold and there's not a whole lot of exciting stuff on the calendar keeping us going. So I'll take what I can get haha. Anyone else trying to zero in on the rider fitness exercises this winter?

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas Eye, er, I mean, Eve!

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!! Replete with all manner of fun time spent with family and friends and food and drinks (and hopefully a not insignificant amount of chocolate and cheese too haha)!

pro tip: avoid the extreme mud in your horse's pasture by riding him down to the gate
Things have been quiet in Charlie land lately. It seems like every time we go out and do something big and exciting, we need an equal and opposite period of .... quiet and decidedly not exciting.

Like after we finally schooled Training XC on Loch Moy's arena derby course, and Charlie spent the next week ridiculously hoof sore after losing a shoe. Or, more lately, about a week after our clinic with PD when Charlie came out for our lesson with a weepy eye and a hot sore hoof.

hm, i spy with my little eye: a sad charlie
Sigh. It's not totally clear what was up with the hoof. Our world is mud rn. It's honestly maybe a miracle the horse's hooves haven't straight up rotted off their legs. The easiest guess would be an abscess, but Charlie's demonstrated an inclination to get equally sore and crippled for lesser woes: a bruise, a soft spot, a laminae-dwelling babadook...

So ya know. Could be anything haha. The heat seemed centered on his coronet band, so I slathered ichthammol all over it and left him to his fate.

can't you just feel the sadness emanating from this picture?!?
Luckily, the hoof seemed 100% totally fine next time I saw Charlie. But... that proved to be an afterthought anyway when I hiked out to his field on Christmas Eve and was immediately greeted by a substantially more swollen and sad looking eye.

Initially the eye had kinda just looked like maybe he had some mud in it. The surface was totally smooth, and while he was holding it just a little closed, he was producing a lot of clear watery tears as if it just needed a good flush.

don't be fooled by his pitiful looks tho. i'm pretty sure he would have happily spent the entire day hangin around the ring amidst his lesson mates
This next time I saw him tho the eye was definitely more closed, more swollen, and had accumulated some crust after continuous weepiness. Sigh. I was ok with the idea of giving the eye a day or two to clear up on its own, but IMO an eye that isn't decidedly improving is an eye that deserves a vet call.

while the foot got better, the eye unfortunately did not
Luckily the vet was able to meet us out at the farm on Christmas Eve pretty quickly. We conducted the appointment in the relative dark of Charlie's stall, since I guess it's easier to do the diagnostics in darkness vs light.

Likeliest case was an ulcer. The vet did a nerve block on Charlie's eyelid (x2 bc the first didn't sufficiently work). Then flushed with dye first, and saline second. Also x2 bc her hand held ophthalmic light tool was dead and needed to be charged up for a hot minute, so we ended up repeating the flush once it was charged.

luckily chrismas = homemade horse treats from my mom <3
Despite the double dousing with dye, there were no indications of any dye pickup - which would be indicative of an ulcer on the surface of the eye. For me, personally, it's a little nerve wracking to not see an ulcer when you expect to see one.

From what I understand, there's basically two courses of treatment for the most common eye injuries, one of which is steroid ointment. But steroid ointment is the absolute LAST thing you want to put in an eye with an ulcer bc it will increase the size of the ulcer.

see the peppermint bits too ??? these things are jam packed with goodies
But.... no ulcer was found. So that's the course of treatment prescribed to Charlie (instead of a triple antibiotic ointment that we would have used in the case of an ulcer). He got some banamine, a strip of atropine to open up his constricted pupil (which I guess helps the medicine get where it needs to go), and some dex ointment.

The dex ointment is administered inside his eyelid 3x daily. I fucking hate giving eye meds and am always so so so paranoid I'm going to jab the tip of the ointment tube right into the horse's eye. So the vet actually suggested I use latex gloves and squeeze out the necessary amount of ointment onto my fingertip and apply that way. Seems like an obvious idea haha, but I hadn't thought of it before. Definitely makes life easier tho!

The other two drugs - atropine and oral banamine - are supposed to be administered once a day. Tho Charlie's eye looked 1,000% better the next day (methinks all that flushing out during the vet appointment was a big help too, tbh) so I opted to skip the atropine.

The atropine dilates the pupil, which has the side effect of making the horse very light sensitive. Charlie refuses to wear a fly mask so this essentially means putting him outside in strong sunlight (ie, daytime turnout) could lead to greater discomfort in an eye treated with atropine. So he's on night time turnout with just a single buddy until those effects wear off. Which all means my inclination is to avoid further atropine treatments unless he needs it.

So we'll see. I'm sure the horse is fine. It's just another one of those small little dings that was jussssst serious enough to merit a vet call ($$) but probably more or less inconsequential in the long run. Just to be safe, tho, he'll get a check up appointment tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I took this week between holidays off of work in the hopes of getting a lot of saddle time. So. Ya know. Maybe by the time Charlie's eye is better, whatever was wrong with that hoof will flare back up again??? Lol it's always something!

At least in the meantime he gets to enjoy all those homemade cookies (which may or may not be laced with banamine at any given moment haha....)

Monday, December 24, 2018

Repost: A New Normal

Happy Holidays everyone! While everyone is hopefully enjoying some good times with family and friends, I thought I'd repost an old favorite of mine: Charlie's introduction to the blogosphere from just over two years ago in Sept 2016. 


I've been saying for a while now that something needed to change in my riding situation. That I've been eager to figure out a new regular routine, a way to keep riding on my own terms without hustling up a horse every time.

taking in the sights
Perhaps you already connected the dots that I have been horse shopping. Perhaps not, in which case, SURPRISE!

Charlie Murray (2009 gelding)
Charlie Murray is a 7 year old OTTB last raced earlier this summer. This tall drink of water actually wasn't even on my list when I went to visit the facility, but his sweet, quiet disposition (and good looks) caught my attention.

After looking at a couple horses there (and a few others elsewhere), he was the one who stayed on my mind. The one I started dubbing "plain but promising" haha.

big horse in a little round pen!
I especially enjoyed hanging out with Charlie at the facility - where he had only been for a few days but was still very nonchalant about everything. Took encouragement to move out in the new-to-him round pen, and would stop to nibble grass as he went.

Mostly tho, in addition to liking the way he is put together and liking this 'type' TB, mostly I just liked HIM. Charlie is just a downright pleasant horse to be around.

bath time!
Including watching him get his first bath at the facility with some volunteers. This guy was so curious that at one point he had gotten a bucket stuck over his nose an it took literal moments for anybody to notice. Bc he was just hangin out, like "Ha, I got a bucket!" rather than flipping out or anything.

kind eye
So I put a deposit down and got him vetted. He's got some typical race horse stuff (feet need attention and residual body soreness) but the structures and joints and whatnot are in good shape. He was green-lighted to go forth and be my event horse!

wearing a hat bc my trailer is... not Charlie-sized
So I have since brought this big guy home - believe it or not he kinda sorta fits in my stock trailer. Maybe. It's maybe a bit snug....

new digs!
He's been settling in at the new h/j place over the weekend, and has eased into the new environment mostly ok. They have a fairly conservative program for building horses up to turnout (he has been accustomed to 16 hours out daily) so his first day found him as not the happiest camper with not enough time out.

checkin out the outdoor
We did lots of hand walking tho. Taking a peek at all the fun grassy areas outside, wandering by the arenas and fields and trailers and whatnot.

grazing by the gazebo
This guy literally just took it all in. Giant truck in the middle of the barn aisle cleaning stalls? Lessons going on in both arenas? Soccer game next door? Strange guy using a leaf blower to clean the aisles (who was seemingly around every single corner haha)? None of it got more than a glance from Charlie.

yep this is an indoor!
I'm really optimistic that he'll ease into the routine of the place pretty quickly too. By day 2 he got a much more substantial chunk of time spent out in solo turnout, and that will continue to grow until he's back to overnight group turnout.

coming to say hi
I stopped by in the morning to check on him and he was hanging out quietly, checking out all his neighbor horses. But of course he had to come over and say hi. This guy is just so friendly.

"Hi neighbor!!!" - Charlie
His former owners have had him since 2012 and very clearly loved him. And apparently spared no expense in his care. Poor guy, I'm a little bit of a downgrade for him unfortunately (look no further than the tiny stock trailer haha).

let's be real. i bought him bc he's game for selfies
But I suspect he'll be just fine. I like his temperament and disposition a lot, and think he will do well in a program centered around routine and consistency (two of my favorite words!!).

more evidence of downgrade status: mismatched tack
But of course you probably wanna know more, right? How is this horse to ride?!?

"I'm on a horse!!" - Emma
The answer? He's a real sweetie. Go button, steering, and brakes are all apparently in working order. He's a little tense and mouthy under saddle right now (still learning to be a riding horse instead of a race horse) but basically just does what I ask.

obligatory between-the-ears shot
He's still wearing his race plates up front and is barefoot behind, tho that'll get fixed later this week. But he was still happy to go when I asked!

post-ride, post-bath grazing
So I'm very excited. Charlie is certainly not the prelim/training packer that Dan wanted me to buy (lol sorry Dan but money is a real thing!) but he feels like a horse right up my alley. I can't wait to get him going!