Tuesday, November 12, 2019

back again: waredaca!

So I hinted last week about putting together a "little fall season" and, spoilers!!, it actually totally worked out! Yasss!! Fall is my absolute favorite time to ride, but somehow the last few years always felt like they were cut short one way or another.

In 2014 I had only just started eventing and didn't really have a firm grasp on local shows or venues or the calendar or anything, then in 2015 I broke my leg right at the end of October. In 2016 I had just brought Charlie home and started taking lessons. In 2017, Charlie had surgery on his broken leg bone, and last year Charlie had another heinous splint injury.

the most handsomest bestest horse ever <3
So if anything, fall has kinda been an unlucky time of year for us lol. But I was determined to turn things around this year.

It's interesting to me looking back on my events page to see how our seasons have sorta adapted and evolved over time. I used to do so many more shows with Isabel. And not just bc she was less inclined to maim herself either, lol. And we went to so many new-to-us venues. With Charlie tho, it's almost like our season has been shrinking, with fewer and fewer outings and only ever to the same places.

I'm not sure why that is, and I definitely don't like the trend. Plus I really wanted to close out this year with a bang, some positive experience and mileage to guide us into the off season.

no pics from our dressage so here's a pic of Charlie watching his buddy Royal warm up!
Thus bringing us to how Charlie ended up doing back to back show weekends for the first time since probably May 2017 (when we did THREE starter trials in a single month haha).

And?? It was awesome :D

is a very important leaf, must hold onto it very carefully!
Honestly the repetition is so key for me. It's only when I go too long without showing that all those nerves and anxieties start creeping back in. It's like I begin to actually doubt that we can even do it -- the idea of showing up to each phase, of even leaving the start box, becomes overwhelming.

I've written millions of times about how making showing feel familiar, routine, and even mundane, is key to controlling my nerves. But... idk, I guess I stopped practicing what I preached. And suddenly I was wayyyy too consumed with what all could go wrong, or why the circumstances weren't right, or whatever. To the point where I went from showing Charlie in 8 starter trials his first season (that, again, was cut short for his surgery) to having only made it to 4 this year, completing just 2.

like i said, the most handsomest
But!!! Over the course of these past two weekends in November, we doubled that number to FOUR completions in 2019. Hell yes!

AND!! It was at a new venue for Charlie -- Waredaca Farm, where I'd only ridden once before with Isabel in 2015 (our second ever BN, memories <3 ). I've been volunteering here a LOT tho in the last 12 months, and I really really like the farm. First of all it's just straight up gorgeous. More importantly tho, it's well run, full of great people, and has really nice classic courses.

have been riding exclusively in jump tack lately, even for dressage. kinda loving it, actually
Now don't get me wrong - I was still nervous. I'll probably always be a nervous sort of rider. But it was much easier this week, even just compared to last week, to quiet those inner voices that ask, "Why do I even do this in the first place??"

That alone is honestly a win. Which, ya know, is nice. Bc we certainly aren't winning anything else lol...

wheeee time for jompies!!
I was actually really happy with our dressage test. My warm up went extremely smoothly -- we walked for about forever. Then went immediately into canter, before settling into more purposeful work (with lots of transitions and focus on the test pattern) for about ~10min before heading into the ring.

Charlie was very obedient and only had two little stumbles and losses of balance (compared to once per movement last week). Our first few strides of canter are still a little braced, but he nailed his canter-trot downward transitions, something that has historically been our boogeyman. Only really weak moment was in the free walk, where he was a little stuck and rigid. 

such a good boy to jump this cleanly after i got him kinda close
Other than that, tho, honestly Charlie was just a very good boy. He was extremely obedient and workmanlike. Tho ya know, at this point I've sorta stopped believing that it's enough for a competitive score.

Bc yea.... It just isn't. The judge rewarded us with many very nice scores, including nine 7s and two 7.5s, for a total of 33.1%. But... It was still 6th of 6, with the first place score nearly 10 percentage points ahead of us. Judge's biggest complaint was Charlie's stiff tight way of going and his lack of suppleness. Sigh.

three cheers for telling cancer to buck off
I actually didn't know my placing tho going into jumping, since they weren't posting live scores. I had kinda hoped to be a bit more in the thick of things instead of dead last, but it didn't really matter anyway since the open division was only 6 riders.

That's basically my new tactic anyway - I've started entering the "horse" divisions since at least they're usually smaller, and often the pros in those classes might be on their more surly creatures haha. And since this show was kinda small anyway, they lumped the "horse" and "open" divisions together. Meaning, somewhat unfortunately, that I had the likes of Colleen Rutledge (who, ya know, has on occasion represented the US at international events...) in my class.

good boy for jumping the snot out of all these fences!
Again, tho, I didn't know any of that going into jumping. The course looked good to me, but it also looked reeeeeally similar to the course at the Three Day Classic from two weeks ago, which I watched claim a substantial number of victims. So I didn't really know what to expect.

We had our first hard freeze the night before so organizers moved warm up into the indoor, but only allowed 5 horses in at a time. So I kinda wandered around the field a bit, watched a few rounds, then made it in for what was kinda an iffy warm up. Tho hey, at least I only nearly crashed once in the narrow space, and the other rider was extremely gracious in receiving my copious apologies....

gung ho going into the combination!
Charlie was excited tho. He was ready. I just had to be there for him. Which.... Ya know, is hard haha. And I almost totally blew it before the round even began by nearly crossing between the start flags accidentally. Whoops!

Amazingly tho I noticed the error at the last possible second (just as the judge blew her whistle since she presumably also saw we were about to cross the line...) and got us back out of danger haha. And then... possibly even more amazingly... we proceeded to begin our course in what proved to actually be a fairly effective manner.

i love his nose in this picture <3
Thanks to a photographer who was apparently 100% on his A-game, I've actually got almost the whole course documented too lol. We were a little snug to the first few fences, but Charlie made HUGE efforts and jumped them beautifully.

this horse is so good, it's unreal
The jumps were set a little bigger than last week at Loch Moy (where a few were undoubtedly closer to 2'9 than 2'11) so the oxers especially looked a tad more impressive. Charlie didn't care tho. He's just so freakin good.

It's kinda funny bc as we progressed through the course I almost had this out of body type feeling like, "Wow this horse is so much better than me!"

nbd just flyin my giant TB around stadium ;)
Especially one or two of the verticals probably would have resulted in rails if it were in a lesson or something, but at this show Charlie was in the zone. He picked his feet up and cracked his back and didn't touch a thing.

not lacking enthusiasm haha
I even let him get on a little bit more of a forward pace for the oxer leading to the in and out, which rode absolutely beautifully for us. Tho naturally we almost didn't fit in the last stride in the next diagonal line lol.

Overall tho, again, almost as if by magic we managed to hold it together long enough to make it through the finish flags without knocking anything down. With Charlie earning 100% of the credit for that haha.

so close to the finish!!
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I personally have so many demons when it comes to show jumping that I'm always taken a bit by surprise when Charlie makes such nice work of the phase.

Obviously we've had our own issues there too (like falling off at Full Moon....), but the horse is more or less quite reliable. I mean, yea we are as likely to have a rail as we are to go clear haha, but I don't really mind rails to be honest. If I have a good feeling over all the fences and we have a rail? Nbd. That good feeling is all I really care about at this point. 

wheeeeee somehow squeakin thru with a clear round!
Tho, ya know, going clear does have its advantages haha. Esp as it meant at this particular show that Charlie and I were able to move ahead of two riders who weren't so fortunate. But again, I didn't know any of that going into cross country.

Mostly I was just so relieved to actually be having a good time and enjoying myself, and just wanted to hang on to that good feeling, and make it through the xc finish flags. Details on that tomorrow ;)


  1. Charlie is a unicorn. What a gorgeous guy! Totally rocking that stadium phase, too.

    1. He is such a unicorn lol, what a good boy. Makes me wish I was braver LOL

  2. The important part of Waredaca? The ability to grab a beer when you're done. Lol! I LOVE these stadium shots. You both look like you're having so much fun, and that is just so fantastic to see! ❤🐴

    1. Dude this show jumping photographer NAILED it, I love basically every picture haha! And yes. Feeling like I can enjoy the moment is nice. Knowing that the beer trailer is waiting for me after definitely doesn’t hurt either ;) good ride? Have a beer! Bad ride? Have two! Lol

  3. Sounds like a really good first 2 phases! I will say that I immediately notices how much more forward thinking your hands were. Great improvement in a short amount of time.

    1. Lol I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time so basically unless I’m specifically thinking about a thing it doesn’t get done. That’s what the neck strap is there for!

  4. he is stepping over those stadium jumps, both of you look fantastic! 33 and change for last is totally ridiculous though. I'd be in the basement of dead last...

    1. thanks!! i honestly in some ways feel like i kinda let the horse down about moving up, since imho he's totally ready. but... ya know, it takes two haha and i'm just not there yet. eventually!!

      also... yea that 33 is actually our best score of the season too, but still last place. i'm cool with it tho -- the scores are reeeeeeally similar to last week's scores, and the horse is honestly doing is straight up best to be a good boy. the consistency is there. now to just find an appropriately sized vat of steroids to dunk the horse in to give him that extra little "sparkle" the judges apparently want to see LOL

  5. He looks amazing in those stadium pictures!

  6. He looks awesome. Once you unlock him for dressage you will be unstoppable!!

    1. ha that's what i've been telling myself the last couple years... maybe one day??

  7. I also just competed against some big names, and it stinks. CR is definitely up there on that list!! But hey- seems like you had a good show and a positive outing- that's a HUGE win!!

  8. Woohoo!

    Well done!
    I can't wait to hear how XC went :)

    1. thanks! hopefully will get that up tomorrow ;)

  9. Charlie looks happy to be out jumping again. With minimal personal experience, it seems to me like some horses will score well no matter what they do in the dressage ring and others don't seem to have that same blinding effect. Charlie is a good boy and you guys always put in a good test.

    1. the jumping is definitely charlie's favorite haha ;) and yea each horse sorta has its own fundamental essence on which we build the training for dressage. a horse with a higher quality natural movement will score better than another when all else is equal. and i do firmly believe that a horse doesn't have to be "fancy" to win. but charlie has some straight up physical limitations that make it harder for him to earn very high marks even when he's accurate and obedient. sigh...

  10. You guys have come so far in your stadium jumping lately!

  11. You guys look like you're having a blast out there! Glad things are feeling less daunting, and you had a great day! Can't wait to read the rest!

    1. thanks! i'm so glad things are feeling less daunting too. it's crazy the tricks our minds will play on us sometimes!

  12. Such a good boy! Glad you guys had so much fun!!

  13. Awesome pictures! The fact that 33 is now dead last in many divisions sucks, BUT it also shows that you and C are improving and that's what it's all about. Those SJ pictures are great- congrats on a clear round!

    1. thanks i'm super happy with that stadium! and to be honest i'm also pretty convinced that under a different judge or at a recognized event we still wouldn't be scoring a 33%.... but we might still be in last place LOL

  14. Yay! I'm so happy that you were able to get out again and that it is turning into such a positive experience for the two of you!


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