Tuesday, April 3, 2018

the dream machine

One of my favorite things about having this blog is the opportunity it creates for highlighting landmarks and milestones.

And I've recently gotten to celebrate a few things!

the sweetest horse <3 and so many more lovely pictures from Austen Gage - all pictures in this post credited to her
Superficially: Last week's cross country recap was officially my 1,000th 'Fraidy Cat Eventing blog post. Which is crazy. Crazy that I've managed to stick with it. And crazy how much things have changed since I started writing in August 2014.

he's so patient for bridling too, which is useful considering it takes about 15 minutes to get all these straps adjusted on his face....
It felt fitting that the 1,000th post coincided with a cross country recap too. That wasn't intentional, but I was oddly satisfied to realize that's how it would shake out.

he's certainly got the "look of eagles" thing down pat
It's especially fun to consider this most recent xc play-by-play in comparison to my first ever two cross country runs - first at OF, and then again a few weeks later at our first Jenny Camp. Or in comparison to some of Isabel's last runs, like our novice at Loch Moy, or our 2nd place finish in the 2016 season opener. Such memories!!

it makes posing for pictures easy no matter what we're doing haha
Last weekend's season opener also gives me the opportunity to mark a another special milestone. Namely, moving beyond the nitty gritty rehash of the rides to focus more on the big picture.

I love digging into all the details in a ride, trying to understand what happened and why so that I can use that knowledge to keep improving and learning. But there's more to a ride than saying "this went well, that needs work," ya know?

relaxed in the warm up ring
So what stands out from a big picture perspective? Well. Considering I'm still walking on air after Charlie's thrilling (in every sense of the word lol) performance, it's safe to say it felt like a pretty triumphant return to the competition scene.

i like that he watches what all is going on around him
Charlie last raced in Aug 2016, and became mine in Sept 2016. He debuted as an eventer in early 2017 and completed 7 cross country courses throughout the year. Plus we schooled cross country on 4 occasions (only counting times when we actually, ya know, jumped things).

cool calm and collected heading down to the arena for our round!
Since then Charlie lost about three months of training and work between his surgery last fall, and stepping on a nail this winter.

And yet so far in 2018 he's had 2 successful cross country schools, and has now completed his first event of the season (and third BN ever) with clear jumping and a 3rd place finish. He feels like a real, honest-to-god event horse now.

the actual handsomest tho
And he feels really good. Still pretty green, as you might imagine, lol. Lacking polish for sure. Bc, uh, let's remember here - I'm the only one who rides this horse. He hasn't had trainer rides. He doesn't get schooled by professionals. He gets.... me. That's it.

happy interested expression even when he's basically just cantering bigly over the fences lol
That's not a brag, or commentary on the relative value of training rides (which should be obvious bc I've previously written about investing in pro rides for Isabel when things weren't going well). Rather, just a reflection on what it's taken for us to get here.

burning around the corner after finishing the round
"Here" might not look like much in the grand scheme of things. I get that. Flying around BN cross country on a runaway thoroughbred and finishing on a dressage score of 41.1% isn't exactly brag-worthy either lol. Let's be real. And it's certainly not everyone's cup of tea.

It means the world to me, tho.

dis charlie's swagger
I pour so much of myself into this sport and am finally feeling like I have a horse who's ready and able to match me each step of the way. Sure, Charlie goes a little too fast and can be slightly careless.... But he's so uncomplicated. So brave. And so so so trustworthy - I have complete and utter faith in this horse.

looking big and beafy on cross country too
He inspires me to want to work harder and be better, so I can give him the rides he needs to keep improving and stay happy in his job.

happily cruising out of the water
Just browsing back through the last 1,000 posts.... it's kinda crazy to see what an impact Charlie has had on my attitude in riding.

I was at a pretty low point when I got him, and even at the beginning of last year I was still dealing with so many confidence issues. So much fear. Insane amounts of self doubt. Wondering whether I was using my horse's greenness as a shield, copping out from pushing my own limits.

it wasn't a ride everybody would have loved, but it was just the ticket for me
This year feels like a fresh beginning tho. The start of something entirely new. It might not look meaningfully different to an outside perspective. But it feels different. And I'm really excited.

already looking forward to the next time <3
There's never any telling what the future will hold with horses. Especially a horse like Charlie lol. I can only imagine what things might look like in another 1,000 posts. With Charlie, tho, it's finally so easy to dream again :)

41 comments:

  1. I’m not crying. These arent tears :) so well written and powerful.

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  2. So many feels!!! Charles is so, so, so good for you. I love you guys together. <3

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    1. Aw thanks! He was a bit of a gamble but has turned out so well!

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  3. Fuck. Yes. I love this. I love all of it. And I'm so freaking excited for you <3

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    1. Yesss!! So much excitement! Hope to see you guys out and about too!!

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    1. it's pretty cheesy but what else can i say ?? lol

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  5. This is great and Charlie really has beefed up!! So great. Love his expressions too! And Austen's photos are amazing per normal :)

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    1. oh man so many of my absolute favorite ever pictures are from austen - so grateful!

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  6. Yay for you and Charlie!!! And so true, it’s a big deal when you’ve got a horse that gives you confidence to do more and so glad you’ve found that in him

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    1. definitely a big deal, and such a good feeling! isabel was a very very very special horse and i'll always be grateful for the time we had and what i learned with her. charlie is something else tho. and i love it!

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  7. This gave me so many warm fuzzies that I am overheating! Those photos are beautiful (Austin- you should come to NS and take some photos.....) and capture you and Charlie. I think that you two were meant to be. I love reading your adventures.

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    1. aw thanks :) and oh man, you should definitely convince Austen to come up for some photo sessions - it's totally worth it haha! bc yea she's got such a good eye for those quiet candid moments that really reflect the horse's personality.

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  8. Love this! You guys have come so far!

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    1. thanks, he's such a good egg <3

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  9. Ah I'm glad that charlie brings you this much joy, it's what owning/having a horse is all about! I hope this year is amazing for the two of you!

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    1. Thank you! As my first foray into horse ownership I am extremely gratified to have this much joy in it <3

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  10. A great partnership for sure :)
    I've had Cupid for almost 4 years now and we haven't gotten quite as far, but I'm enjoying the adventure.

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    1. The adventure is what its all about as far as I can tell. We don’t all go the same speed or go to the same places, but we usually hope for the same outcome: happinesss and fun!

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  11. <3 <3 <3 <3 So happy you're feeling more confident with him!

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    1. He’s always been so easy to feel confident aboit’

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  12. So happy for you! I had the worst outing last week and when my coach went to commiserate I was like "are you kidding? I am so lucky to have a horse that I can do this with! I get to be here, doing stuff I've wanted to do forever!" Just saying I get it - the scores, etc don't always show progress, success, or fun had. Although don't knock yourself, that was a pretty solid score to end on :)

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    1. No knocking any score happening here! I’m always a huge proponent of celebrating the small things! So happy to hear you felt really good about your latest outing even if the scores weren’t what you had hoped!

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  13. So happy to hear you and Charlie are continuing on your journey and that he has brought the happiness to the riding. After all, that's why we do it, right?

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    1. That’s definitely why we do it ;) happiness is everything, right? Hope things are going well with you and your mare too!!

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  14. It's been so lovely following along, and seeing your partnership develop. It's such an amazing feeling know you did the work, and put the buttons there. And know your partner inside and out. Best feeling ever!

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    1. Aw thanks! I love the feeling of knowing my horse inside and out! It’ll feel better when there are more “buttons” to play with but we will get there!

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  15. 1000 posts? That’s amazing!! I’ve really enjoyed following along and can’t wait to see what accomplishments you continue to have with the dream machine!!!

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    1. Thank you!! I’m so excited for the future with his pony and seriously hope to have a 1000 more posts to share !!!

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  16. Congrats on 1,000 posts! Such a huge achievement. Can't wait to see what Charlie comes up with for the next 1,000 ;-) (Here's hoping more jumps and less feet troubles!)

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  17. I was wondering how you ended up with Mr. Charlie, so I appreciated the back-links. Love that you're enjoying the moment and are sharing how much growth and fun you've had with such a cool horse! :)

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