Wednesday, October 3, 2018

OF HT: Cross Country!

One of the reasons I was feeling a little blah leading up to this event was bc I expected the course to basically stay the same, but thought maybe the deteriorating ground conditions would be more challenging.

It's not like I thought there wasn't anything to improve on from our last cruise around this track in August. Rather, I wasn't convinced I'd be able to make those improvements in the mud. And our last run had been so so so so SO FUN, that I was reluctant to replace that happy memory with something that might... be a bit messier. Does that make any sense?

smiling <3
But it turned out that they did make some changes to the course. Not a whole lot, mind you, but just enough to make me feel a little more excited about doing something slightly different.

Of particular note: they moved the two stride line of roll tops that had been so tricky for us. They put it on higher, drier ground, and stretched it out to 3 strides. This change alone made me feel way better about things.

also getting run away with haha
Our course walk was still a little funny tho -- we walked a day early, before they finished setting everything up, so most of my N jumps weren't flagged yet. And actually jump 3 wasn't even in place yet either, so I almost missed it entirely once out on course!

Everything looked good tho, as far as I could tell. It would be an easier course than the last time we ran it, by necessity of simplifying things bc of ground conditions. The biggest jumps were still out there -- but this time around I knew Charlie would just sail over.

about to cruise right on past my log jump haha, whoops!
So once it was go time, I basically planned to just sit back and enjoy the ride. Let the horse jump the jumps, and try to be a little careful in the really mucky areas. Charlie was apparently fully on board with this plan. And for the second time in a row, he left the start box without even the slightest hint toward being sticky.

He just went. Cruised up and over the same log at jump 1, and kept cantering all the way down the field to the green ramp at 2. No balking, no pinned ears. No kicking or growling. Yessssss!!!!!!

sir is locked on! and emma needs to shorten her reins! lol....
Charlie also was quite polite about being guided through a break in the fence to the new jump 3, which I ran right past bc I had thought the BN jump would be ours (remember -- nothing was flagged when I walked haha). Nbd, tho, he circled back and jumped our hanging log without a care.

We then crossed right through the pedestrian path to face a hairpin turn to a small roll top at 4, shared with T. There was no way in hell we were gonna make this sharp left handed turn, esp with Charlie revving his engine thinking we were going back to the gate home. Haha. Yea no. So I executed yet another small circle here. Nbd.

Starter trials in this area never seem to time any of the jumping phases, so I'm all about taking full advantage of that. Esp with such bad ground conditions, why risk it?

basically just along for the ride up there haha
In any case, Charlie hopped the roll top without a second thought and cruised on up the hill to a little brown house. Wherein I promptly rode him to an atrocious distance and he had to execute his first bail out of the day lol. Good boy didn't care tho. Just kept on cantering!

Once we got to the top of the hill, we turned back to my favorite little roll top friends and managed to fuck up that distance too. Sigh. Idk what my problem is with these jumps lol, but I can't for the life of me manage to find a good distance to them. Oh well. Again, Charlie didn't care and made it down the line without issue.

i appreciate this picture mostly bc of my nephew cameo in the background <3
After that, the course was basically the same as last time, with just one small change. We cantered on over to that weird small hanging log thingy that Charlie jumped very politely.... But then GALLOPED down the hill toward the water haha.

oh, did i mention it was mucky out?
You may remember that last time we rode that line down the hill to the water, Charlie basically cannonballed into the water and reached the coop on the other side in the BIGGEST four strides I'd ever ridden in my life.

Considering this particular area of ground was in possibly the worst shape of the entire course, I felt fairly strongly that I did not want to repeat our previous experiences lol. And therefore opted to circle again. #noregrets

gosh, he really is not a small horse haha
It worked out too - Charlie cantered into the water very nicely and reached the coop in a very balanced fashion! This marks the third time I've taken Charlie directly into the water at an event without schooling it first. And even tho two of these times have been at our home barn, I still think it counts toward Charlie learning that "This is how we do now." Hopefully it sticks!

Anyway, I was especially grateful to have taken the time to get a little more organized bc it meant that we reached our next jump, the log oxer, a bit better too. I've only jumped this fence once before - while on course at Jenny Camp - and while it was fine enough, it wasn't quite as smooth an effort as I would have liked.

This time around tho was much better. So. It felt like at least a couple things on course were actually improved on from last time! Yay!

we did a better job at the log oxer this time around
Tho uh... Haha.... Yea obviously bc it's us we're talking about here, we immediately almost ate shit and died in the slippery mud just at the bottom of the above hill. I'd heard it was super slick and was trying like hell (unsuccessfully) to slow Charlie down, too, but no dice.

It bugs me bc you can't even tell when he slips in the helmet cam - you just hear me yelling at him lol. But you'll just have to take my word for it, it was hairy there for a second haha....

the one jump shot i *did* remember to take, bc this table deserves to have a person for scale haha
Anyway, after we righted the ship from near catastrophe in the mud, we cruised back on up to the white house leading into the track through the woods. Last time Charlie backed off slightly but this time he jumped it just fine perfectly out of stride.

I tried to be a little more careful coming out of the woods toward the ditch combination, since I knew the 3 strides rides quite short for Charlie. Last time we kinda climbed the B element (which is way too small, imo) but this time was a little better. Still tight, but not quite so cork-screwy.

charlie no care tho!
Then up and over the ramp in the fenceline to the far field, to meet our same giant table friend again. I swear this jump is beeeeeefy. But Charlie has proven time and time again that.... he's sorta into that kind of thing lol. And this day was no exception: he jumped it great from a surprisingly balanced stride.

cruising is his happy gear
The only other change on course came up next - last time we had a steeplechase with an optional bending line to a bench. The line to the steeplechase tho took us right down into a super boggy section, so it was taken off course and we would instead take a straight route to the bench. This suited Charlie just fine and he jumped the bench well.

So that made something like 8 jumps in a row that were pretty decent efforts, meaning it was time to break the streak haha. Thus I again offered Charlie an existential crisis distance at the small trakehner and he had to bail us out again lol. Sorry buddy!!

not put off by the brush!
Oh well, all's well that ends well. We were nearly at the finish line. Just a quick hop and skip over another stream crossing (which Charlie legit almost pitched me out of the saddle omg), a big jump over the green brush table, then a final flight over the bench!

flying over the last bench!
And of course, no cross country run is truly complete without Charlie's patented "bolt through the finish line flags" song and dance haha. He's just.... wow, kinda hard to stop sometimes. It was fine tho - he took me right on back up the hill to where my family was watching. Convenient lol.

alas, the only "group shot" i managed to get of my family, snapshotted from the helmet cam as we galloped past haha
So ya know, it was honestly a pretty solid run for Chuck, I think. Ideally I would have liked to not do those circles.... but it seemed reasonable to play it safe. Plus we still almost caught up with the rider in front of us, so it's not like I was going obscenely slow or anything.

Some of the iffier jumps kinda bug me, per usual, but that was kinda just the theme for the weekend anyway. For the most part, it seemed like Charlie was just out there having a good time. Jumping the jumps and cantering around like his happy fool self. It felt like a pretty solid schooling experience.

helmet cam video!

The helmet cam video is pretty fun imo too. Tho obvi I'm biased haha.

gosh he's fun tho
It's really nice being able to show at home, since I could just take Charlie directly back to the barn for cleaning up, bathing (with the help of my cousin and nephew!), and tucking back into his stall with more fresh hay. He seemed to appreciate it too, and was very happy to settle back in for the afternoon.

Tho there's something to be said for having the afternoon to tailgate at the trailer with my riding buddies. And there's also something special about going off property for shows - pulling up that different driveway and wondering what the day will bring you.

I'm happy with the experience Charlie has gotten showing at home this summer, and feel like we've really gotten back into a good groove again on cross country. But I'm also eager to test it out somewhere new haha. Maybe later tho, we'll see what the fall brings.

For now tho I'm just so proud of this horse, and feel so lucky to be along for the ride!


  1. He LOVES his job! Look at those happy ears. What a fun guy. So glad you two had a great run! Congratulations.

    1. thanks!! he definitely seems to understand what it's all about haha, and is always in a big hurry to get on out there and jump the jumps!

  2. man he is not small. he's stepping over those (to me) giant n/SHARE WITH T WHAT jumps!

    1. lol yea these jumps are not a problem for him! tho most of the ones shared with T are definitely small for that level - unfortunately the T course bore the biggest brunt of poor ground conditions and saw their course shortened and softened quite a bit.

  3. What a good boy! He looks thrilled to be out there :) and those pro photos are super nice.

    1. so happy to be out there! and we're super lucky to have a barnmate who is an enthusiastic photographer and is out at every event capturing photos for everyone!

  4. This looked really fun! The footing was clearly pretty iffy, but Charlie looks so confident and chill about it.

    1. so fun! and yea the footing was seriously sketchy in some areas, but luckily at the jumps themselves the ground was mostly pretty good. in fact in some places it was downright dry - made for tricky choices for studs!

  5. He looks like he has really found his element!! I love how happy his XC face is. Also that big table looks like so much fun!

    1. ha yea he's totally in his element out there - it's such a great feeling to know that he's gonna tear shit up!

  6. He is quickly becoming a triple threat but the xc is clearly Sir Charles' favorite :)

    1. ain't that the truth!!! and to be honest he's generally pretty freakin solid in the show jumping ring too, even if this particular event wasn't our best example. dressage is coming along - i have full confidence that he can be competitive in that phase too, it's just a long process haha. but yes, the xc is really what it's all about for him!!!! :D

  7. The pic of you galloping through the water is SO great! Looks like you had a blast, and yes, Charlie is Da Bomb!!!

    1. ha thanks! i love that picture too <3 definitely a fun time!

  8. You guys are just too cute <3 Those ears - he loves it for sure! I'm glad that it was still a successful run despite a few hairier moments haha!

    1. aw thanks - definitely a successful run! the mistakes will always be there, i think, but so long as we can just keep going it's nbd!

  9. The ground doesn't even look that bad - I thought to myself until you added a screenshot of the ground from the helmet cam haha

    1. ha yea, the farm has a lot of natural springs on it so certain areas are literally bogs of standing water. most of the jumps were well positioned tho with just a few cut up areas that had to be traversed. it made it tricky tho to figure out what studs to use - i didn't want to over stud bc some areas were significantly drier (even trending toward "firm") whereas other areas were deep mud with standing water.... idk, it worked out tho!!

  10. I'm so glad the ground held up and you had another good run! Extra good he can gallop away from home too! Good boy!

    1. Thanks!!! I’m so so happy that he’s come to terms with actually GOING out of the start box haha. Hopefully we can keep it up!!

  11. you got some great photos! Wow. And that table. makes me want to puke. That footing also made me want to puke.Congrats on not only surviving but doing well!


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