Tuesday, March 20, 2018

8,000 happy pictures

So I know it's been a bit of a roller coaster around these parts for the last six-ish weeks. As exhausting as it can feel trying to keep up with the highs and lows, I promise it's a thousand times more exhausting to keep living through them.

don't mind him, just trotting all cute up to his lil log <3
A wiser, more rational person might suggest that I diversify my emotional investments a little more. So that one single facet of my lifestyle doesn't have such power to send me spiraling when things go wrong.

i never promised cute trot jump pics tho haha
But..... Well. What else can I say? I'm too addicted to the highs. Even tho the good moments with Charlie have come hand in hand with many sad or upsetting or disappointing lows, I still just live for these moments where everything *clicks.*

looking gung ho over the little raised log!
They are the fuel that keeps me going. Keeps me coming back for more. And makes me push myself to be better so that I can seize on whatever opportunities Charlie presents to me, even if it makes me a little nervous.

and off across the field to the brown ramp! and yea... sorry not sorry, photo quality is what it is today. 
And that latest opportunity was a gorgeous day in the high 50s. Excellent ground conditions. And a horse who had been hacking around the hills for the past week and a half, waiting to come fully sound.

charlie says it's too sma
Charlie was finally back to 100% on that hoof at the end of last week, and we were able to immediately get back to conditioning work. Plus I rode him in a lesson over the weekend for trainer P to assess. She put us over a very few jumps and Charlie was just.... so so so good, like he never missed a day, let alone six weeks since his last jumps  <3

the handsomest 
So with the forecast this week calling for a wintry return, with a few inches of snow, plus sleet and icy rain spread over the week.... Well. I just knew that this was my chance to just get out there and knock the rust off. Aim Charlie at a couple carefully chosen fences and just... let 'em go!

This would be only his second time schooling our home course since moving to the farm last July. The last time he schooled out here was also the last time he schooled xc on terrain since August. Since then we had one run at Fair Hill, then the arena schooling in January.

actual handsomest tho. hands down.
And Charlie did not disappoint! Brita kindly agreed to wait around so she could ride with me (and take video, thanks so much girl!) and we set off for an easy long slow walk warm up through the fields.

ok you caught me, i'm obsessed.
Then there was nothing more to do but move on to trot and canter, and then start jumping things! Considering Charlie's current level of fitness and the day's warmth, I wanted to be very picky about what we jumped. Very few repetitions, but make each effort count.

In all, we jumped exactly 9 times, plus two trips up and two trips down a bank. I didn't bother with the ditches on this particular day bc Charlie's been playing with them somewhat regularly lately, including doing a bunch of them the day prior while we were out doing trot sets.

the juxtaposition of the house jump and the actual house in the background here makes me giggle a little
I also opted to keep the jumps we worked over at BN. Didn't really want to spend time or effort on smaller jumps (aside from our first warm up logs), but also didn't really feel like this was the day for working over new heights. BN height is stupidly easy for Charlie, but we've still got lessons to learn in polishing up the whole picture. So I'm cool with it.

large horse being freakin adorable imo
Honestly each jump rode pretty freakin well for us. It felt like we had one of those airport tarmac guys out there for us, ya know the guys who wave around the neon orange wands? Helping the planes navigate around the busy terminals? Well that's what it felt like cantering down to all the jumps, like one of those guys was signaling out our proximity to the fences, like "1 - 2 - 3 - Jump!"

also occasionally looks (and goes) like a race horse too lol... esp headed back toward the barn!
The moments in between jumps were...... Haha, a little more feisty. Charlie has always been a very barn sour horse, he always knows which way is home. And this was his first time truly schooling in these fields since really settling in to the farm as "home." Plus we have literally been hacking the fields daily for.... a couple weeks now. So he knows which way is which for sure.

new jump for us! nicely substantial (for bn) log table thingy
Meaning.... He had a very strong draw towards the barn. Not rude or naughty or scary.... But very strong. And occasionally pretty fast too. He never looks fast in video, but he sure as shit does in person. And definitely feels fast. So you'll just have to take my word for it ;)

no scope no hope
It was good tho. He was so good. I just freakin love him <3

We jumped some really simple stuff: a couple logs to start, then the brown BN ramp that he's done once before. Then into the next field where we practiced a nice three stride line that he's also done before (tho that time it had a different, slightly bigger out jump).

this jump is mentally tough for me, with a drop on landing to a steep-ish descent. 
We moved on directly from that to a log table thingy that was added to the course (with N and T versions too!) after Charlie did his splint and had surgery. It's a good sized table for BN, but nothing we can't handle. It was definitely high on my to-do list tho, esp as a "new" jump for us.

charlie was freakin perfect tho <3  (except for that whole running down hill back to the barn  afterward thing.... lol)
Then I was just going to do another little house he's seen before, and a simple triple bar that's a style he's seen before even if he hadn't jumped this exact one. Except then I saw the above log drop fence and realized that was probably the better bet for us.

It's a bit of a frightening jump for me - not insubstantial in size but also with a pretty decent drop and downhill landing. I jumped it before with Izzy but it had all the check boxes for a "scary" jump with Charlie, esp bc it was going downhill straight toward the barn. Definitely more interesting than the other little house lol.

that feeling when you try to use your body as a sail to slow the horse down lol
Charlie was great tho. For all of it. Again, I can't stress this enough -- the jumps themselves were perfect. Exactly what I needed. The space between the jumps was fast and furious, but never out of control. Charlie always eventually came around, it was just slow to develop.

splish splash!!
Which I'm cool with. I legitimately trust this horse implicitly. I have so much confidence in him, even when I don't have it in myself. I know he's going to be a good boy, and I know he's safe. Plus he really showed how much he's matured over the last 18 months this ride - esp with respect to his education over fences.

simple triple bar
We had some long spots and some deep spots, but nothing actually ugly. Nothing that he wasn't able to adjust for and handle well, and that I wasn't also able to anticipate and stay with him. I'm cool with it lol.

then more trot bc cute
Possibly will need to experiment more with bits at a later date tho.... For instance I picked up a waterford pelham ages ago but haven't tried it yet. I'm also curious about jumping him seriously in the hackamore, since he schooled the ditches/banks/water so well in it a couple weeks ago.

We'll see tho. The reality is that so much of his "pull" comes from his homing instincts, aka the barn sourness. Take him away from home and to a show venue, and those issues disappear.

easy up!
Anyway tho, after accomplishing each of the jumps we set out to do, there was nothing left but to splash through the water and play up and down the banks!

then even more cute trot bc obvi
We've practiced this a fair bit since the ground has dried up and Charlie's definitely got this particular water complex figured out. Let's just say he's come a LONG way since that first time I tried to drop him down a bank into water..... (and you should totally click through the link just for that epic helmet cam gif haha).

to an easy down!
I still haven't cantered him off a bank yet. And the little bank peninsula thingy up the hill that jumps onto a slope still kinda freaks me out (as opposed to the bank into water that is by definition a more flat ground). In time, tho. In time.

and also a more exuberant down!!!
All of Charlie's time off since late last summer has had me second guessing myself, and my choices. Feeling like maybe I haven't capitalized on opportunities when I should have, for no reason other than being nervous or whatever.

Deep down in my heart, tho, I know the choices I've made for Charlie have been fine. He doesn't mind that we're not "there" yet.... bc, as I must constantly remind myself, there is no "there." Rather it's the process of getting there that is so fun and exciting to me.

this is a picture of happiness <3   such a good boy!
And it's hard to argue with the choices we've made when Charlie can come off a long winter filled with layups and rehab and then even more silly time off, and yet come out to play like a better schooled horse than he's ever been before.

He's caught on to the game, he likes it so far, and it's easy for him.


Meanwhile, taking it slow has had advantages for me as a rider too. I trust this horse so much. And it's finally helping me trust myself too. Trust that I can get us out schooling and make good choices. Tho obvi it helps having a solid base of support in Brita there too haha!

So for now, I'm riding this high. And loving every moment of it. All my grandiose plans fell apart for getting out and about for a winter series of derbies. And who knows what the season ahead will hold for us. But right now? Oh man, this horse is FUN.

45 comments:

  1. Charlie looks awesome and the two of you are just clicking. Watching you makes me want to try it too.

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    1. thanks! and you should definitely try it!! there's something so.... freeing about cantering through fields and jumping logs and such ;)

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  2. so glad you got out to spin around that CC Course before this FREAKING WEATHER HAPPENS (WTF WHAT DID WE DO TO DESERVE THIS??) ANYWAY, he looks great and so do you. What fun! What a good boy! :) YAY

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    1. oh man i'm SUPER happy to have gotten out before this storm! couldn't have asked for a nicer day than yesterday, esp compared to today, blargh.

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  3. Ahhhh!!! He looks SO GOOD. You look SO GOOD! Never know there was a hiatus from jumping. Damn, y'all. I'm so happy for you <3 <3

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    1. thanks!! it's like he just retains everything and gets better and better with each day, whether we are actually able to work on anything or not. it's such a good feeling!

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  4. Love this SO MUCH! He is just the freaking coolest!

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    1. i might be biased, but yea he's basically the coolest ever <3

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  5. Looks like so much fun! We have gotten so much rain in KY that everything is a mud pit. I can't wait for a good forward canter (or even a short gallop) in an open field. Charlie looks like he's having a preeeeetty good time too ;-)

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    1. ugh the mud.... blargh. we actually have been super lucky bc aside from a very muddy start to the season, all our spring precipitation has missed us lately, so we've been treated to very good ground for a couple weeks. alas, that all ends today, sigh. hopefully things dry up for you soon so you can get that gallop through the open fields!!!

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  6. Go Charlie! And seriously, what the hell is up with this weather? Anyway, you look like you had an amazing ride! I'm jealous! Hope we all survive this blizzard... See you on the other side... I'm joking, maybe? Ugh.

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    1. that ride was exactly what i needed, esp with this nonsense weather now. hopefully you guys make it through without any issue and that there isn't too too much snow!! at least the temps aren't really all that terrible, so hopefully nothing will last very long??

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  7. YAY! Charlie looks so good, and I'm so happy for you to have your boy back! How fun is that XC! This post makes me want to go do some cross country...like now!

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    1. oh man i've been itching to get out and school for basically forever at this point haha, hopefully you get to go soon too!

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  8. Yay!! I am so glad to see you guys back in business. Nothing worth doing is ever easy, but you definitely deserve a break!

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    1. yea i'm pretty sure it wouldn't be so fun and feel so worth it if it wasn't also so hard haha. that's just horses, i guess.

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  9. I'd kill to have a real XC course where I board. So glad he's feeling better!

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    1. this xc course was definitely one of the big selling points of moving here, and it has KILLED me to be here for so long without getting to really take advantage of it! i'm determined to chance that this year and school the bejesus out of the course!

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  10. Luff all these pics... looks like you guys had a BLAST!!!

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    1. so much fun, and i'm so happy to have all the pics / video to keep watching haha #mediajunkie4lyfe

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  11. The two of you are having so much fun out there and it shines through those pictures. Everything you've done to bring him to this point has paid off in dividends.

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    1. thanks! it's easy to get all caught up in my head feeling like i shoulda woulda coulda done things differently or whatever. but the horse is just going so well (when he's going lol, knock on wood) that nothing else really matters ;)

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  12. I was so excited to read that he was sound the other day! I went back and looked at that gif you mentioned and also watched the video from that day, and then obviously the one here too and AH you guys are so cute and happy! I love it!

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    1. ha he has come a LONG WAY since that post from about a year ago. it's crazy looking back, honestly, but he's just taken to the sport really well!

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  13. Rides like that are the best :) All the work you’ve put into them has paid off and you know you have plenty more left to move up, but in the meantime you can enjoy a well schooled, happy pony!!!!

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    1. i love the feeling of a happy horse who feels confident and educated in his job! esp bc this horse is just so freakin consistent. it doesn't matter if i'm a little nervous or frazzled, or if he hasn't seen these kinds of jumps in literal months, or jumped down a hill basically ever.... he just.... reliably does the thing. i like it!

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  14. SO FUN!! and that log table looks HUGE. And look at him using his whole body over the jump with bascule and stretch.

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    1. eeeee thanks! i am super excited by how he feels over jumps right now - he's been jumping VERY well. i had been worried that all our grid work from this winter would be forgotten and wasted with all his recent time off. but nope - he's retained it all! obvi i'm not sure he'll still jump this well when he's really tired at the end of a course, for instance, but it still feels promising!

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  15. Neither one of you guys looks like you've missed a day! That jumping position--on point, yo.

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    1. lol thanks. i honestly don't know where my jump position has been hiding this past year or so, and it's not exactly like we've been practicing lately. maybe just bc the horse has gotten so much easier to jump from his early days, and is so much more consistent, it's easier for me to stay with him?? or bc i'm less scared now?? idk haha but i'm ok with it!!

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  16. I'm glad you were able to do something before the weather got shitty again! Trust is never overrated!

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    1. this weather needs to quit it for sure. if we end up missing more shows bc of any reason other than charlie being a deadbeat cripple, i'm gonna have words lol. but yea, agreed 100% about trust.

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  17. Yay jumping! I am so jealous of your green fields. They look gorgeous! And he is SO HAPPY OMG haha! So precious. He is definitely so happy to be out and back at jumping! And to me (who is used to slower horses as well) could definitely see where the downhill slope got fast! But he looked like such a super good boy. So glad you could get back at it!

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    1. sadly all the fields are white with snow again now, and for the next couple days. that's always the way, right? but yea he was SUPER happy to be out and about doing things. like, "oh yea, jumping! i like jumping!" finally haha

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  18. Woohoo! It looks like you guys had a blast out there! And how cool to have such an amazing facility to call home

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    1. such a blast, this horse is the absolute most fun lol (even when he's dragging me at high speeds back to the barn....). this cross country course is so cool and there's so much more to it that we haven't even gotten to yet. hopefully soon!

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  19. Ohhhhh! You both look so good! I'm glad you got to xc school!!!

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    1. thanks, he felt like a million dollars!!!

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  20. You guys look freaking awesome! Glad you got to JOMP some JOMPS! You both look BOSS.

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    1. lol thanks! it was such a relief to just get out there, let him go, and have a little fun ;)

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  21. Wow, seriously impressed, you guys are both looking great! That log with the slope/drop behind would have made me pee my pants :)

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    1. yea i admit to being a little nervous about that log drop thingy. the thing is tho.... idk if it's charlie's conformation (ie, his mile-long back) or just his general athleticism combined with his no-fucks-given attitude, but his jump is incredibly comfortable and easy to sit. plus neck straps are life savers lol.

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    2. Love that you're so comfortable on him and having so much fun :)

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