Tuesday, June 4, 2019

skippin' town

This past weekend's lesson with jump trainer P was a casual, low key, fun event. It was just me and one other of the normal lesson mates -- C with her spicy little nugget of a pony.

Sometimes honestly I kinda feel bad for trainer P when she has to set fences for brontosaurus Charlie and said spicy little nugget, who is roughly half Charlie's size.... But eh, that pony can jomp, but is also very clever about adjusting himself as needed, so it works out!

go forward, son! forward to GLORY!!
The semi-privates are also kinda fun bc we end up basically just doing play time. With trainer P trying to come up with all manner of devious devilish exercises for us. Like, the horror, making us do a proper 60' four stride line LOL.

Throughout Charlie's training as a jumping horse, we've focused mainly on teaching him to compress and be more adjustable longitudinally. He's a long horse and spent years on the track running flatly. I want more of a "bouncing basketball" type movement from him tho, and working over shortened distances (esp in grids) has helped immensely with that.

we've been jump-slicin' demons lately
But.... these lessons aren't just about training Charlie, right? Like, Hello My Name Is Emma, and sometimes I suck at riding lol. Particularly, riding on a more forward open stride while maintaining that feeling of rounded lifted balance is.... not my strength.

We don't necessarily need to practice a longer open stride with Charlie very often bc that's the part that comes so easily for him... Except we *do* need to practice it enough that I get comfortable with it, and Charlie can practice putting all his newfound strength to good use in maintaining his balance even on a longer stride.

tho, uh, ahem... in one of our earlier trips where we were figuring out the striding we mayyyyyy or may not have broken that purple rail. cough cough, ahem, whoops
So I was actually really happy to practice that 60' four stride line. Slowly but surely, I'm getting the feel for what Charlie's best canter at that stride length feels like. It's starting to click haha.

And it's clicking for Charlie too -- in this lesson I felt like he really began to see why it's worth listening to me when I want that forward. Bc everything is easier when we're in a better forward balance. The jumps are easier, the distances are easier, the turns and lead changes are easier....

it's impossible to tell from this angle but this is not a small barrel jump...
He's a clever horse. Very very smart. He operates in more of a cerebral manner, vs going from his heart. Which means that when the going gets tough, he can sometimes start questioning my wisdom. But if I can show him how to make life easier (ie, better balance on that forward stride), he will happily get with that program.

have i mentioned lately how gud i am at riding horses?!?
Right now, the hardest parts for us are the turns. Every now and then I feel like turning one direction is harder than the other.... But actually it's both directions. Basically, I'm not being very effective at piloting Charlie's shoulders around the turn, getting him to really rock back and almost pivot on his hind end.

Instead, we're kinda dragging heavy on the forehand around the turns. This means we lose a ton of momentum and impulsion, plus we get wildly crooked. Which, I think one is the symptom of the other. I think if I could keep him straighter in the turn (ie, turning more off the hind end), we would be able to carry the impulsion better.

don't do this at home, kids. jumping oxers backwards is actually a pretty big no-no, WHOOPS
Regardless, the iffy turning ability means we definitely biffed our approaches to the diagonal lines in our course work. This showed up early, when we started practicing a long line off the left lead from brick boxes, slicing over the orange oxer, then two strides to the barrel jump (all coming toward the camera in the pics farther above).

It took a while to figure out that distance from bricks to orange, bc we kept losing all our oomph in the turn to the bricks. Fading to black, so to speak. Same story when we turned it around to go across the other diagonal, going away from the camera in the pics immediately above and below.

Tho. Uh. I really screwed that line up anyway bc I just kinda assumed we'd be doing the full triple just liked we'd done coming the other way. But I was so consumed with panicking about how hard the line from the orange to the skinny vertical at the far end would be.... that I didn't even notice that the orange was a backwards oxer.

aaaaaaand.... yea, that line worked out about as well as you might expect haha. which is, not well at all
In other words, I wasn't even supposed to jump that one. Trainer P couldn't figure out why I was so worried about that line, bc yea she never said to jump the orange. Whoops!!! C'mon, Emma - gotta pay better attention to those instructions LOL!

Charlie jumped it tho, even tho again I totally biffed the turn. That whole turning thing.... That's really gotta be Issue #1 in our schooling, I think. But idk. Steering is hard, yo!

sometimes we do jump straight lines down the grid too!
At least Charlie is apparently super brave and game, and made it all happen despite my pilot error haha. Good boy, Chuck, you're a saint <3

Tho, obviously we left out the orange oxer haha when we went back to go clean that up (not on video, sorry). And that turn went much, much better. Nice to know tho that Charlie has gotten so comfortable with slicing fences!

awwww, you're my boy, blue!
So yea. It was a nice casual jump lesson where we didn't do a ton, and only a couple fences got any height to them. But the work we did was exactly in the areas where we need the most practice. And Charlie was a good genuine boy and *did* demonstrate that he has a conscience haha. Thanks buddy!

I definitely need to brainstorm some ideas for working on our turns in schooling tho. Like, I feel like we practice turning a lot in terms of circles and serpentines and other figures, in basically every single flat school. But it's clearly not really enough.

We've also been doing a ton of work on getting Charlie stronger in his hind end through lateral work and counter canter. But that's not necessarily the same as getting him to USE that strength in the moment of a sharp turn lol....

But nothing really compares to the urgency presented by an obstacle set at a fixed distance haha. So maybe I need to look more into some cavaletti or ground pole patterns and exercises? Idk, we'll see haha.

i feel like it's critical that you understand the pattern on my shirt above is cats. all cats. cats everywhere. 
Anyway. More work to do as always. It's been kinda low key around here lately, but in a good way. In that way that feels so good and reaffirming to me. Just the same steady routine. With the added bonus of actually maybe finally getting more lessons haha. More to come on that later ;)

And in the meantime, here's hoping this week flies by quickly bc I'm already jonesin for the weekend haha!


  1. Forward AND balanced through the corners is hard work! Ugh! And maintaining the rhythm? Yeah, impossible. I feel ya! But it looks like you guys got it all done, which is impressive!

    1. oh man, it's SO impossible tho haha -- esp with a horse that handles like the titanic!! we're werkin on it tho ;)

  2. I need to start working on slices too! The Phillip clinic I just audited featured slices even for the BN group and I was kind of jealous! Y'all are looking fab though and I WANT THAT SHIRT

    1. the slices are actually super fun -- what i like most about them is how they call out my and my horse's lateral imbalances, when slicing off one lead is harder than the other...

  3. Yeah for lessons! And love the cat tank top!

  4. I love the tank top. And the impossible line. :) Well done.

    1. lol on the spectrum from possible to impossible, i guess we got it done... not sure it was done well tho LOL ;)

  5. Awesome lesson! That top, tho. I want one.

    1. dude i spotted it at one of those random sidewalk farmers market type things and instantly had to have it!

  6. Lol whee! Also those red breeches are super flattering on you, girl. Love them.

    Hind end strength was always the hardest thing with Pig. We did a lot of backing up rather steep hills. 4 steps up, make a face about how hard it is, then back down. I always felt like it taught him more about sitting on his butt than anything else. Lolol

    1. charlie's got the strength, finally, we've been working on that almost exclusively for months. but that's not necessarily the same as getting him to USE that strength in the moment of a sharp turn lol

  7. "nothing really compares to the urgency presented by an obstacle set at a fixed distance "

    I feel this in my soul hahah.

  8. He looks like so much fun to jump! Best tank ever btw

    1. he is the MOST FUN TO JOMP EVAR, not even trying to brag tho

  9. Omg corners are way too much hard work. I love lessons like that, you feel so productive and it's fun!

  10. He looks great but omg haha that shirt! It's amazing


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