Monday, January 29, 2018

f*ck yea, more grids!

It's crazy to me how quickly we can get spoiled by a little nice weather. Especially if it comes hand in hand with good footing conditions in the outdoor arenas. After getting so many great outdoor rides last week, it was kinda depressing to face more frozen ground and the dusty indoor again.

peaceful ponies at the round bale. charlie isn't exactly alpha, but he's also big enough that most horses don't really mess with him
But. Ya know. That's winter, right? And anyway, I was determined to fit in at least one lesson with trainer P this month after all - since I had just enough time this weekend to squeeze into her early morning lesson.

now that's an eager trot haha
And - surprise, surprise! - the exercise du jour was more grids!!! Shocking!!!

But seriously tho, I honestly am pretty convinced that Charlie would be very well served by weekly grid practice from now until the end of eternity so.... Ya know. I'm cool with it haha.

would be a nicer pic if it were less dark and blurry. or if i sat down. lol. either way!
Especially bc it's a little hard to find motivation to do much after being spoiled by a week of nice weather only to suddenly lose it again. Like, I tried to school under the lights in the big outdoor jump ring the night prior and was pretty unreasonably demoralized by how frozen the ground was. Sadness.

charlie's so excited to demonstrate how well he's learned how to play this game!
The indoor is ridiculously dusty right now too - it hasn't been getting watered much with all the construction going on around it. And with something like five horses going, we were all just coated in dust haha. Even with opening some of the doors....

wheeeee good boy!!
It felt worth it tho. A simple ride, nothing much ground breaking that was covered. Our flat work was.... eh, kinda braced. Idk. And the grid work was not meaningfully different than other sessions from the past month or two.

excited coming the other direction too haha
Tho I will say, it's really cool to feel how excited Charlie gets about grids now. Like, he totally gets the game. And LOVES it. And just straight up attacks the poles and jumps - tho carefully and with an appropriate degree of foot awareness. Meaning maybe only one or two knocked rails for the whole time. I'll take it!

i appreciate how well he's attacking these fences while still getting the footwork right
Honestly I'm pretty convinced our heavy focus on grids over the last ~6 weeks is a major part of what has made Charlie so FUN and EASY to jump lately. Like, he's got this whole new education on how his body moves through time and space relative to fixed-distance gymnastics. And can apply that to reading his approach to individual jumps.


Likewise, the grids have helped me really work on staying with Charlie over the fences - especially as it relates to keeping my leg on and my hand following. None of it is perfect yet, but again. I credit the successes of rides like this and this with all the grid practice.


Because the reality is - I've never regularly ridden a horse this big with a stride this long. So a long distance on Charlie looks.... freakin impossible lol. Meanwhile, he much prefers that long spot to the chip stride that I'm always constantly trying to cram in there. Bc nobody likes that chip stride, Emma. C'mon now.

atta boy, charlie. atta boy.
But if nothing else, this grid practice is hopefully instilling in us a solid muscle memory to be applied once we get back out in the open again. Which, also hopefully, will not be very long from now. Ugh, winter.

Do you have a tried-n-true, go-to exercise for when your options are limited by weather? Some sort of simple practice, be it cavalleti or a certain grid or ground pole configuration, or a set of flat work exercises that you always return to when there isn't much else to do?

28 comments:

  1. Look at him go! Definitely honing some jump skills!

    As Griffin and I have grown and advanced every year we've been together, nothing seems to be the same season to season. As a whole, I tend to trail ride more to preserve the footing in the field I frequent for jumping and dressage.

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    1. yea this time of year the ground just seems so fragile.... we keep wanting to go out and play in the cross country fields but.... not yet, not yet. trail riding is a pretty great alternative tho!

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  2. I forgot all about how DUSTY arenas can get, your comments reminded me forcibly how I would come home from a lesson covered in the stuff even my eyelids seemed gritty HA! But how cool and Charlie looks amazing!! I am so jealous. I love boarding at a small barn but I am envious when you have lessons going on right there. I know it is a two way street boarding at a busy barn but sometimes I miss it (STILL NOT RIDDEN MY HORSE again...SIGH...the weather yesterday made sure of it, warm enough but pouring rain...)

    Love love love Charlie's expressions!! he is so eager!

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    1. oh man, it's SO DUSTY. like. eye lashes and eye brows totally coated. noses full of mud. dust even inside our ears. ugh. so much dust. and my poor, poor tack - it's all coated and dried out (and i'm so neglectful when it comes to tack tlc!). still tho, dusty wee indoor > no indoor, so we make do!

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  3. We don't have an indoor where I board because our winters are typically pretty mild, but this winter has been horrible. Frozen ground/arenas leave nowhere to ride, and then it poured all weekend, making everything extra sloppy. P has gotten so much time off in the last 6 weeks. So I've taken to setting ground poles 5 normal strides apart and then playing with lengthening/shortening to fit 3-7 strides in between. It's not as hard on the legs as jumping, but still a super challenging exercise for me the both of us. But I'm looking forward to real jumping again!

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    1. ooooh i LOVE adjustability exercises like that! but really don't do enough, even tho that's a big weak spot for charlie. so easy to set up tho, too!

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  4. Look at Charlie go!!!! He really has improved so much since you got him!!!

    As for winter riding exercises… well since I don’t have a ring my go to move is to ride on the dirt road when my front pasture or the trails are to wet. Another thing I’m trying to incorporate more of is various carrot stretches. There are 12 I need to do more consistently, especially when I can’t ride!

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    1. oh man i'm sooooo bad at remembering to do carrot stretches.... even tho my horse LOVES doing them. ugh. why is it so hard to be consistent with them?!?!

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    1. we almost never do 24' distances for one stride in grids, and if we did, that distance would be used in instances where we canter in. mostly with charlie in particular the purpose of the grid is to get him more adjustable and compact in his body, rocking back and pushing off his hind end -- ie, compression is part of the goal. my trainer typically uses an 18' distance for this purpose, with trotting in. if there's a second one stride element in the grid, we'll usually bump that out to 20-21'.

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  6. I know you have a small indoor like me, so I'm interested on what your distance in the 1 stride was? Did you go on the typical 24 feet, or more like 18-19 feet since you were trotting in? Distances in a small indoor are hard 😂

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    1. ha sorry, i was replying to your earlier comment before i saw this - so see above!! yes, the small indoor definitely makes it more challenging haha

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  7. Man, those grids are really making you and Charlie look AWESOME :D

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  8. Grid work is the best! Especially for just thinking about your position all the way through.

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    1. yep definitely! up to basically now in charlie's training, we've had to focus pretty heavily on helping him through the grid vs just sitting pretty up there, bc.... haha, it took him a while to figure this stuff out. now that he's so good at grids tho, it's MUCH easier to work on myself too!

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  9. No indoor here, so we work in (a) the hayfield which will tear up if ground is too soft (b) the road through the woods to the buckwheat field, also prone to tearing up (c) the road over to May's, slightly more gravel in the mix but also shady and doesn't melt out as fast or (d) the hard road down to the covered bridge -- shady and prone to ice but doesn't usually mud up but also cars. None of these is super-ideal, but there's enough variety that I can typically keep all the footing looking sorta-OK until better weather. (except the hitching post, omg, it's disgusting and I have to haul in more stone because I can't even...) In these trying times, we do marching walk for fitness, work towards better walk-trot transitions, practice rating in trot, do stretchy walk & stretchy trot, drill laterals. It's not exciting, but it's important foundational stuff and we can always do better at it. Cantering is like once or twice an outing, on the best of the available footing. (Seriously, we have 2" of mud over frozen ground. It is Not Good with a reasonable chance of splatting.) I am ready for spring and we have a whole nother month of this. :(

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    1. ugh the mud.... it is definitely here too. in some ways i kinda like riding charlie out through really muddy slick areas bc it forces him to pay attention to his foot steps in a way he's not usually inclined to do lol. but ugh. i'm so tired of bad ground and it's really only just begun.

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  10. The chip stride is definitely harder on that giant horse body than the long one haha. We are in the midst of a heat spike - actually went to the beach yesterday! While its lovely to enjoy and ride in, the under current is more sinister.

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    1. yea i kinda felt that way last winter when we had like.... one week of really frigid temperatures in an otherwise extremely mild season. this year has been more extreme but the wild swings are kinda problematic in their own right too...

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  11. Awww he does love it! That is great tho that he's doing so well. He definitely looks to understand how to better move his body and get his feet out of the way - I seriously can't wait until you guys go to your first event!

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    1. it definitely feels good to have him so happy in his job again after so much time off! very reassuring for sure

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  12. His face is amazing. So much excitement. I remember the days of tiny indoors. The first barn in WI had a 20x40 indoor and there was basically nothing to do with that.

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    1. yea this indoor is 20x40m too - definitely limits the options for what can be done in it! tho then again, after a couple weeks of working exclusively inside this space, charlie's gotten a whole new sense of balance for how to turn and carry himself!! lol

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  13. Nothing meaningful to add, just had to say yet again I love how happy you are with Charlie! Your updates make me smile almost every time - so much excitement and happiness :)

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    1. aw thanks <3 i'm so excited to do all the things with charlie that i kinda want to do all of them all at once right now omg haha.

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  14. Grids are so so so helpful. I feel like lots of horses could just live in them. I'm such a wuss about setting them up for myself as I worry I have distances wrong. I love pole exercises though!Even just two poles and I work on being adjustable between them. Sometimes 5 strides, sometimes 6 etc.

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  15. Woohoo!! You guys look great. He's really figuring it out!

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