Friday, August 31, 2018

summer's last hurrah

Gosh this lesson was forever ago.... Like.... I haven't had a ton of Charlie media this month, but what I *have* had has been all jompies all the time. Which like, I'm not complaining! Charlie and I have had a freakin awesome time jumping this month.

his middle name is "keen"
In early August we schooled cross country at Boyd Martin's legendary Windurra (tho, sadly, not too many pictures from that beyond helmet cam snippets). Then had one of our best jumping lessons ever, with trainer P.

Then Charlie's triumphant return to novice level eventing came hot on the heels of that lesson with his 2nd place finish at Jenny Camp. Then we had another lesson (focus of today's pictures haha), and then another fun Twilight schooling event to round out the month.

sometimes charlie wears such a serious face lol
In past years, July and August have typically been quieter months for us. A period I've referred to as our "summer recess" between the spring and fall seasons. But after our spring season basically stalled out entirely, and our early summer erupted with some serious training holes... Finally, our calendar heated wayyyy up this month.

I'm certainly not complaining! It's been a ton of fun, even if Charlie's closing the month with another ridiculous ding.... The jam packed schedule has made it tricky to stay up to date tho with some of those less eventful in between moments, like our normal weekly jump lessons with trainer P. So these pictures have sadly languished until now haha.

weeeeeeee in-and-out!!
And ya know. There really wasn't a whole lot to write about the lesson. Charlie was riding high off his perceived champion Grade-A stakes winning performance at Jenny Camp (just ask him!) and felt a bit like the King of the World haha.

Instead of his soft adjustability from the week prior, he was a bit more... cocky haha. And I had kitted him up in my dressage bridle instead of the elevator I compete him in. This was .... possibly a mistake. Ah well, it all worked out.

he's gotten so clever with short tight 18' one stride grids
When Charlie's a bit stronger like this, it's a lot harder for me to hold my own position bc I'm spending more energy fussing with him and trying to pull him together. We also end up in situations where we kinda flatten and get more on the forehand, resulting in more knocked rails.

Tho in Charlie's defense, he's really learned so so so much about getting himself to the fence. Even when he's pulling, he's still adjustable in that he's looking at the fences and knows even from a couple strides out that he might have to balance up a moment, or move more forward. Which is helpful haha - it's a lot easier for me to let go more on a horse who feels like he's reading the jumps.

aw but there's his happy face! the sharp left turn after this jump was vurrry challenging for me too haha - definitely had to bail once or twice before we could make it happen
It also helps that the jumps are a bit up haha - Charlie is really getting pretty consistent and comfortable now doing full courses at T. Which, obvi, incidentally is super exciting for me. Isabel and I jumped the occasional 3'3 fence (and very very rarely, an odd 3'6 fence). But course work at this height is new to me - it's only really this summer that we've been schooling it so regularly.

Charlie makes it feel easy tho. Which. Ya know. It certainly helps that he's a Size Large horse, bred for raw athleticism, lol. Plus it honestly feels like he's finally discovered his scope. Like, not just flinging himself headlong at fences, but really truly flying.

i'm flying, jack!
Jumping bigger at home has also helped make our jumps at shows look pretty darn small. Like, sure, some show jumps at Twilight last week were closer to 2'9 than 2'11, but you can't deny they looked friggin puny for Chuck. Whereas, conversely, the legit-ass T table we finished that cross country round with was a total cake-walk for the big guy, even tho I rode to an iffy spot...

ooooh gotta suck it in for that skinny, tho!
And in a lesson like this one, where I'm kinda fussin with the horse and having trouble getting him into that nice round bouncy uphill canter.... and where he's kinda just running through me a bit and getting flat.... it's still seriously reassuring that.... the course work feels pretty consistent.

The biggest pieces we're working on now have more to do with refinement than anything else. Like... uh, balancing in corners. Preparing better for turns (you gotta watch the video to see me toooootally biff a planned turn and then pull out of it at the last minute....). Continuing to try and install a reliable half halt... Helping Charlie feel more coiled up and able to rock back onto his hind end on approach to the fence. Ya know. The devil in the details? Nbd haha.

no problem even after beefin the jump up a bit <3
Meanwhile, Charlie feels like a cool calm customer, totally game for whatever I aim him at (like this beefed up shark's tooth skinny jump with barrel as fill!). It's not perfect, but it doesn't have to be. That's what it means to be learning.


Which is nice, right? That validation and reaffirmation is always helpful. Does the horse know his job? Are we able to execute with reasonable consistency? When mistakes or issues crop up, are we able to adjust and adapt? Am I operating on a razor-thin margin of error with the horse, or is our trust bank well-funded?

yup. i'm keepin' him. even if he does have a freakish ability to discover sharp pointy objects with dem toes....
Depending on who you ask, I've made countless poor choices for Charlie. Whether in our schooling and training, or in his care related to all his many dings and dents, bumps and bruises. To this end, I've gotten a lot of unsolicited advice (constructive or otherwise) about how I'm going outside the lines or in direct opposition to how "it should be."

But. Ya know. I say, fuck 'em. Charlie's the one I take my hints from, and Charlie's doing just fine. Not every ride is perfect. We make mistakes and we uncover training holes. That's riding tho. That's what makes it interesting haha.

We're going into a long holiday weekend here in the States and I've got all sorts of fun plans for the next few weeks, starting hopefully with our annual tradition team hunter pace this weekend. Charlie still seems 100% fine and no worse for the wear following his run in with the nefarious villainous, uh, chunk of mulch.... So here's hoping he stays that way. Fingers crossed!!

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend too - anyone else getting out for any big group rides for the weekend? Or maybe any other sort of parties or get-togethers? One last hurrah for summer? Or maybe you're looking forward to something a little quieter?

24 comments:

  1. Ahhh, unsolicited advice. I’m losing all patience with it. At the last show where I ended up scratching in the class the woman who was doin* the scoring decided that I needed to hear that it was my tension causing all the issues and I needed to be calm. I smiled at her and walked out while she was still talking. Which is good because I didn’t say “ thank you for seeing my horse once and knowing everything and how to fix it. Why don’t you get on her and show me?’ So yeah, it rankles.

    You did well with Charlie this year and there is no prescribed path. You seem thoughtful and deliberate in your planning to me. As the kids say ‘whatevs’.

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    1. lol yea "rankle" is a good word for it. like... c'mon, there are multiple ways to go about things when we all have differing and competing priorities. and so often ppl tend to project scenarios from their own past and experience onto someone else's situation, regardless of context. c'est la vie tho!

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  2. checking in to say i prayed to the hoof gods for charlies foot and those jumps look ENORMOUS. I should take a pic of the crossrail i did last weekend, its a doozy

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    1. ha you SHOULD take a picture of the cross rail!! i would read the shit out of that blog post, #justsayin haha. and yea so far the hoof gods have not struck us with the fury of a thousand suns.... but then again it could still happen. last time charlie waited about 4-5 days before the abscess struck. right now we are on day 4 so..... we'll see what i find tonight haha

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  3. It's so funny how the younger, greener horses come home from a successful show and are SO FULL OF THEMSELVES. It's really cute, and I can't help but grin from ear to ear!

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    1. lol i LOVE IT when charlie goes strutting around like a derby winner haha! often i think his many years on the track left him with a clear impression of what it means to "win" -- but that in eventing, especially with cross country, since he's the only horse on the field at a time, he gets to feel like he wins *every time* since he's always the first one through the flags lol. definitely makes me grin too ;)

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  4. Yowza!! He is flying! I am so happy for how you and Charlie are doing right now :)

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    1. aw thanks!! i always figured that with his long legs and long back, he'd have no trouble jumping some bigger fences... but suddenly he's started feeling really REALLY scopey and it is so fun to ride!

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  5. Charlie looks happy, that's what counts! I could see sparkly eyes on the video. Unsolicited advice is worth aboutwhat you pay for it. Ever notice that most people who actually know their shit don't just go around telling everyone what to do? 🤣😂

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    1. lol ain't that the truth!!! the folks who actually are right there with the truly valuable advice are... ya know... usually the ones who get paid for the privilege of receiving their advice (ie, trainers, vets, or any other variety of professional). it just seeeeeeeeeriously cracks me up when legitimately "anonymous commenters" on the internet tell my to fire the pros in my life. like, uh, ok sure, random anonymous person with zero credentials. sounds like a solid plan haha.

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  6. These pictures are da bomb! You guys are my inspiration!! Have a great weekend!

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    1. aw shucks ;) hope you guys have a great weekend too!

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  7. So glad that Charlie is still going good after his run in with the woodchip and hopefully still doing the hunter pace this weekend.

    He looks good in the video! You guys have certainly come far from early this spring, I can see a huge difference in how relaxed and confident he is to the jumps now. I like the term "trust bank" a lot!

    I'm looking forward to riding Rio again for the first time in 3 weeks and overall having a relaxing holiday weekend!

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    1. oooh exciting that you finally get to climb back aboard - i hope the first few rides go swimmingly!!! what a relief that he's healing up well this time!

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  8. I like how Charlie is all casual jumping these giant jumps now. Ain't nothing but a thang.

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    1. lol i mean, he's always been pretty casual haha.... but now he's casual with *technique* ;)

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  9. Phew! So glad Sir King of the Dings doesn't seem too worse for wear after that killer mulch. He definitely looks keen in that lesson! He's just getting so fancy over jumps <3

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    1. thanks - so far so good! we are still inside the period i would consider "wait and see," since last time he had a hoof puncture he abscessed on the fifth day, and today is day four. i'm hoping tho that this being a puncture to the frog vs to the sole, he's less likely to abscess bc of the better vasculature??? who knows tho haha, anything is possible!

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  10. Replies
    1. Also, anybody who is going to critique you needs to look at themselves under a microscope first...

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    2. aw thanks, and yea.... i mean i get that it's really easy to arm chair quarterback other riders. like c'mon, there's a TON of low hanging fruit to pick on in these pictures. but.... for my purposes, i like to step back a little bit from one picture with tight arms or swinging lower legs and think a little more about how all the pieces are working together. imperfectly, but together. and ya know, things are working for us! and anybody who would like to think they could do better can suck it bc i'm not sharing this ride haha

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  11. Charlie looks fantastic over those bigger fences!! It is so fun having a horse who makes big fences that used to make you want to die, into something to look forward to! Hopefully he will stop trying to find pointy objects with his feetsies.....

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    1. it's crazy to think that even just this past winter i was still really struggling with getting my mojo back and feeling good about jumping. like, i still get crazy nervous and can be my own worst enemy.... but it really helps that charlie is pretty freakin straight forward!

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