Thursday, March 21, 2019

early spring XC groove

I'm gonna say it right now: If I can somehow make it into an annual tradition wherein we have a killer xc school at home in March, to shake the rust off before our season starts.... Well? That would be pretty awesome, right?

homeboy got to spend the last week NAKED!!! back in a sheet right now temporarily, but spring time is COMING!
We did basically the exact same thing last year too, right ahead of our season opener at Loch Moy. Unfortunately this time around, I have neither 8,000 pictures of the schooling, nor will we we be attending MDHT"s March spring starter. Womp.

Realistically, Charlie's just not where he needs to be to run an xc course after what amounted to 4 straight weeks off - first for getting his hocks done, and then for recovering from stepping on that god forsaken nail (something I would prefer to not be part of this annual tradition anymore, thankyouverymuch!).

yup he still loves mares lol. also totally casual about the other baby mare busy jumping the ditch in the top left corner of this pic haha
And honestly it's been a VERY slow recovery. As best we can understand, he must have been standing on (and walking on) that nail for a while - at least long enough to do a fair amount of damage to the delicate tissues inside his hoof.

It's a massive relief that none of the more "important" structures were involved, thank god. But still. He's been very sore. And then as he'd feel better, he'd grow stir crazy and impatient with his restricted turnout. And apparently display all manner of explosive shenanigans in his little paddocks. But then make himself sore again. So the cycle kept repeating...

That is, until one day he got so rambunctious he somehow removed a water hydrant from the wash stall next to his paddock.... removed it from the ground with his face. And FLUNG IT across the paddock, then lost his ever loving mind as water gushed wildly from the broken pipes.

Uh. Yea Chuck, no. We put him out out in the big field after that, let him run himself sore if he wants. Christ almighty.

just out for a canter. also y'all have seen that red N boat house before - it was on our last two competition courses, and charlie was happy to school it both directions easy as pie
Since then, it's been kinda touch and go. Charlie's basically sound, unless he overdoes it. And with the scent of growing spring grass in the air, homeboy is overdoing it lol. Like for the first little while of riding, I stayed exclusively in the fields bc he seemed most comfortable on grass.

Except.... Wow. The horse is feral lol. All along I had been not-so-secretly hoping that we'd still be able to pull off riding in the upcoming Loch Moy event, bc "our schooling had been so on point," and "he'd been going so well, all we needed was a little fitness!"

Yea. No. The horse is a litttttle wild right now haha. Basically even for our most lowkey hacks through the fields, he continuously tried expressing to me that his entire job before me aimed at getting home as quickly as possible lol.

ooooooh but this is new to us!
But that's fine, right? Like, I'm never gonna complain when my horse tells me that he feels GOOD after an injury! And eventually he built back up to doing some tiny trot sets and little canter sprints here and there. And then back into the dressage ring to see if he actually forgot all his education, or if he was just pretending. (Hint: he didn't forget, he's still a good boy <3 )

And then?? Finally, FINALLY?? Charlie was feeling consistently sound and eager to go forth, plus the ground right now (as of this writing, bc rain is in the forecast) was perfect. So? Some buddies hauled over to the farm and we set out to finally jump some things. Yesssss!!

this roll top has haunted my dreams for literal YEARS. i've always always wanted to try it, but have always always chickened out. 
I ended up choosing to leave the helmet cam at home, mostly bc I just wanted to keep things really simple. Didn't want any expectations or external pressures or anything in case we jumped something and Charlie started feeling iffy on the foot or whatever. But he didn't feel iffy. Not at all. He felt like a million bucks. 

Well, ok. He got tired suuuuper fast lol. But that's ok, we kept it short and sweet and to the point.

we finally did it tho!! and, uh, yea. this is literally the only media i have from the ride tho... so...
We warmed up over an itsy bitsy elementary telephone pole, then cantered a raised log, then were off to the races to the same green N ramp we've jumped a million times now. But I also pulled on my big girl britches and circled him back around to the T ramp too (it's the blue ramp at jump 2, visible in our helmet cam footage from past N runs here).

It's a simple fence. Just, ya know. Taller. And Charlie aced it. Just such a good boy!

as is my habit, i'm milking this one clip for everything that it's worth. but hey. charlie's a fucking magnificent beast and he knows it too, so we never mind the pictures, right? <3
After that, we moved with the group to the main field with the water jump. Once here, we did some simple repeats of the red N boat house that we've jumped a million times - both here and at Shawan. We did it in both directions - water to house, as it was on course. And house to water. Charlie didn't care, jumped it easily.

how did i get so lucky tho??
From there, we played a bit with the other two pillars of cross country's holy trinity: ditches and banks. Charlie was bored over the little ditches (as expected), and went up the banks fine, and down the earth-to-earth banks normally. But was a tadddddd explosive down the bank into water haha.

Nbd tho. We need all the practice we can get, so I was happy to repeat it. For some reason, jumping Charlie down banks makes me so much more nervous than Izzy ever did. Not for any real reason - he's been nothing but a good (albeit slightly exuberant) boy. I think it's just bc he's so much bigger than her, to be honest. Oh well, just needs more practice!


At that point I knew I was facing a choice. The horse was starting to get a little warm, and was showing his lack of fitness. Even after so few jumping efforts. So I probably didn't want to do a whole ton more. But.... There's this one jump there. The T roll top. I've been riding past this fence for actual years, but have never jumped it.

My last few schoolings here with Charlie, I've known that we needed to jump it. That was actually part of the reason I was so disappointed with our sole lesson out here last year. I wanted my trainer to tell me to do it. Bc I was too chicken shit to do it on my own. Left to my own devices, I could always rationalize some reason to "save it for another day."

we stayed mostly in just the two main fields bc who has time for gates.  lots and lots of walking too, obvi
Not this time, tho. I knew I'd regret it if I didn't try it. And also knew that Charlie would be a good boy. That it would be easy for him. And?? It totally was. He jumped it easily out of a relaxed stride. Jumped it well, then bounded happily into the water and dragged me up the hill, away off into the sunset lol.

but when you have a field with all this stuff RIGHT THERE, what else do you need???
For me, it feels so so good to finally cross these few T fences off the list. Like, I know standalone T fences are generally pretty easy for Charlie. He's a big brave scopey athletic horse who enjoys jumping and has a better eye for it than his rider. Really, he's the epitome of a thrill ride.

But I'm still so nervous about some of this stuff. And I still feel like we have so so SO MUCH work to do. Slowly but surely tho, we're checking items off the list. And every time I push myself a little farther, push my own envelope and comfort zone, and Charlie responds as if he's basically been waiting all along for me to go there? Well. It's really reassuring haha!

happy goober <3 <3 <3
So yea. It was a reaffirming school for sure haha. And after jumping that roll top, I was happy to call it a day with Chuck and just hang out watching our friends finish their rides.

It's still a little disappointing knowing that we had to scratch from this upcoming weekend, but it was the right choice to make. He's not ready to run a full course right now. He will be soon tho. And realistically, he'll be ready for a lot more, probably sooner than I will be haha. In time, tho. All in good time <3

38 comments:

  1. Yay for jumping the roll top! But honestly, I'm still sitting here giggling over the hydrant shenanigans. 😂 😂

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    1. Omg the hydrant haha.... I could have killed him for that! Luckily he didn’t hurt himself in the process and the pipes were fixed right away. But omg this freakin horse ....

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  2. I really hope the nail does not become part of the annual tradition.

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    1. DITTO. It’s downright frightening and eerie reading last years post too - we were coming back into work in the exact same way ugh lol

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  3. OMG, I'm laughing at his tantrum with the hydrant. I WANT TO GO OUT NOW! What a goof.
    That jump was very cool. I'm glad that you are back on track.

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    1. i honestly couldn't even believe it when the barn mgr texted me to let me know what happened. like. what the hell, charlie! he made his point tho!

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  4. Is he a strong boy? Must feel so good to have such an awesome ride after that holiday! You rocked that coop!

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    1. omg yes it feels so good! my anxiety requires constant reassurances haha, so time off really gnaws on my confidence lol. luckily he always seems to come back better than ever! and yes, he *is* a strong boy lol, he's like an unstoppable force, esp when pointed in the direction of the barns!

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  5. My first pony used to be stalked next to this mare who would gnash her teeth at other horses in the corner of her stall where the automatic waterer piping was was. One day she grabbed the pipe and yanked it out - water everywhere!
    Or the time the farrier backed his truck over the hydrant in the middle of the yard when the barn owners were away....
    Glad you've Noreen managing to get some rides in!

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    1. ok so in some weird way i'm oddly relieved to hear my horse isn't the only psychopath who has yanked a hydrant out of the ground lol.... but like, what on earth, horses!!

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    2. Def not alone. Mare I worked with in Indiana hooked her halter on the hydrant in the yard and pulled it right out. Water-splosion did not help her resolve her ... um ... feelings.

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    3. omg why are they like this tho?!? crazy horses!!

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  6. The hydrant drama...HAHAH! He is lucky he didn't hurt himself. Charlie finally hit his limit and turned into the hulk. Sorry about the scratch. I do love how you keep his best interests in mind.

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    1. omg... the hulk. i feel like that might need to get photoshopped somehow lol! and thanks, yea i'm bummed about missing the first show but luckily the organizers were really accommodating and just moved my entry to the next one (plus a small office fee), so it was an easy choice to make!

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  7. Congrats on knocking that roll-top off your list (and hopefully out of your nightmares!)

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    1. thanks girl -- roll top nightmares are vanquished!! lol

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  8. HELL YEAH at that picture/video of you guys over the rolltop. BADASS

    Bummed you won't be there this weekend- I'm heading up to VA today! I'm going to ride the horse again tomorrow/Sat before I make the final decision on actually competing him, but he's entered for Sunday and I'll be there Saturday also with my friend who's competing her other horse.

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    1. thanks, he makes it feel so easy!! and that's awesome about your weekend plans - i may still be there sunday anyway to cheer on other friends too, so let me know your times if you end up deciding to compete!!

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  9. I have the opposite problem - a horse that DOESN'T want to go home, ahhaha. OH Spring.

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    1. lol going home is charlie's favorite thing in the world and he's ALWAYS trying to do it haha. "now?" "ok, but what about now?" "really tho, can we go now??"

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  10. You two look fantastic! Congrats on tackling that roll top. Charlie was totally like NBD MOM!
    It's disappointing to have to cancel a show, but there will always be more shows. Best to wait until you both are fit and ready.

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    1. thanks!!! he's such a good boy, just jumped it like the most normal thing in the world lol. and yea, agreed completely that waiting is for the best. last year we were in a similar position with not quite ideal prep before our season opener, and i basically ended up getting completely run away with on cross country at the show haha...

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  11. Wow you have some gorgeous courses to school where you are! Jealous!! Great job on the roll!

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    1. we're so lucky in this area to be surrounded by great venues. having an xc course at home (esp one that hosts recognized events!) is definitely a huge boon, and part of why i drive 50mi a day roundtrip to get there lol! hopefully we'll be able to make more use of it this year too!

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  12. Well done!

    I reckon it just becomes practice after you initially pull the finger out.

    I bet in another couple of months you'll look back and wonder why it ever looked big at all.

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    1. gosh i hope you're right lol!! the jump still looks freakin giant to me, personally, but knowing my horse disagrees really helps normalize things haha!

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  13. I'm glad he's healed up and hurray for a great XC school and braving the T rolltop (which of course was NBD for Sir Charles)

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    1. thanks! and it's crazy how nonchalant he is about this stuff lol! thank god, bc with my last horse i couldn't have even imagined jumping that thing haha

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  14. I'm so pleased Charlie is almost all better!
    Sounds like it was a productive school, even if a bit short. I'm so jealous you have a course right there. That would be super useful to have!

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    1. thanks - it felt super productive. nothing over the top, but just a nice reassurance that the horse still knows and LIKES this job! and yea having the course right here is so freakin convenient, tho for some reason i really don't get out there to actually jump things nearly as often as i had expected when we first moved in. hopefully this year will be better?

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  15. GOOOO CHARLIE! I am in LOVE with his happy ears. :)

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    1. meeee toooo :D actually i kinda love how initially he wasn't even really looking at the jump (since we've cantered straight past it dozens of times over the months without jumping it), but when he does actually lock on a couple strides out? nbd, doesn't register any surprise or worry about being aimed at it. just so like, "ok yup, normal business, gone jump dat jump!"

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  16. omg Charlie and the water hydrant🤣 Good job tackling that scary roll top! Charlie looks like he’s having a great time jumping stuff:)

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    1. thanks :) he's having the most fun, jumping is basically his favorite thing ever. i think if he could describe his ultimate job description, it would be: giving pony rides to kiddos, and occasionally running xc haha

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  17. SO nice to see you out riding again! And jumping the JUMPS

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    1. thank you!!! it feels like it's been forever, but i'm so so so happy to be logging more saddle time with my favorite pony again <3

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