Tuesday, June 9, 2020

getting over the gulp

Life has changed in so many ways since January 2020. My expectations, hopes, dreams... The calendar painstakingly imported into google..... The tentative but ambitious 6 month game plan.... It might as well be from a lifetime ago haha.

I just don't feel the same way right now as I did in the... before times. And ya know, that's ok. Honestly, seems like a sentiment shared by just about all of my friends.

longer and longer days mean for lovely evening light! also... poor chopped mane haha, womp
Instead, my attention is shifting. My long term horse goals have never been about "getting to the top" of the sport. Rather, in time I want to be involved in horse sports in ways that perpetuate and spread the joy I personally experience from this habit. Right now, there's an opportunity to brainstorm anew how that could look.

And in the meantime, we're sorta easing back in to the day to day rhythms and routines that define my own personal horsey experience.

alllllllll that real estate, and this is where charles gets bit. TWICE
I'll probably post an update on Charlie's feet sometime around mid July to see how the near-daily keratex applications have worked. So far tho, I'm massively relieved by what I'm seeing. All the same, Charlie will go back into leather pads at his next appointment. And until then, I'm avoiding pounding on his feet with anything like trot or canter sets or lengthy jump schools.

too bad, charles. still gone sit on you!
That hasn't meant we can't have a little fun tho, or can't go through schooling sessions with "stringent criteria" per Doug Payne's advice.

And I'm also not overlooking the advice Charlie's vet gave me during his 6-month wellness check last summer: wherein she said it was critical to condition Charlie to the impact I'm asking of him, rather than always constantly avoiding high impact.

boom. have achieved sitting!
We've had a couple nice flat schools, during one of which we ran through Training-A again and... ya know, it was actually pretty ok!! I always forget where the transitions are for some reason, but overall it actually has a really nice flow for Charlie.

i swear he is beautiful and elegant and happy. his expression here tho definitely says that.... next time he'll ask his friend to aim for the back instead of girth area LOL
Basically all of our issues in the test boil down to *me* not quite meeting the "stringent criteria" (again, per Mr Payne) vs Charlie not meeting them. Especially as our dressage tests get more complicated, I have this weird habit of sorta surrendering to the test rather than attacking it or riding it proactively.

Like I'm almost letting us be dragged from movement to movement, instead of charging forth! through it. Does that make any sense?

Feels like good food for thought. Or... a metaphor for something? Anyway...

shadow frens!!!
We had another jump school recently, too. The set up was virtually identical to our first jumps back from quarantine, but all the heights were kinda wonky. The grid was set to crossrails, and the singles were all around 3'3. Patting my self on the back tho, rather than shrugging and being lazy, I actually did dismount and reset stuff to what I wanted it to be.

there's his happy goofy face!!
Specifically: I reset the grid to be a little more progressive, including finishing with a nice 3' oxer. And reset the single jumps to 3' too. Bc.... yeeeaaah ok so we could do T height. But eh, 3' is good enough for now and still a step up from our first school back where everything was more like 2'9ish or less.

And I wanted to concentrate on riding forward, keeping the hind end going, and letting Charlie's neck be long with soft hands in the strides before the fence. Focusing on my riding is so much easier when the jump doesn't preoccupy my attention haha. And ya know, it worked. Charlie was foot perfect and jumped everything exactly like the schooled horse he is.

"yes hello, here are also my nose wrinkles + teef!" - charlie, probably
We've hacked out a lot lately too. As a side effect of the lengthy quarantine, some boarders are experiencing sliiightly fiesty/spooky horses that make them nervous to take out alone. Plus... everyone is craving social warmth right now, let's be real. Yours truly included.

Charlie is basically the bestest trail horse in the world, tho, so whenever the opportunity presents itself, we hit the woods with other boarders who are still getting their sea legs back.

And also sometimes by ourselves too haha -- all the better to have a little fun with the fenceline cross country jumps when we don't feel like dealing with gates!! Thusly has Charlie seen his first few xc efforts since.... February? March?? Who knows!

aw charlie <3 at least hair grows back eventually!!
(if only the same were true for his forelock..)
So ya know. I'm relieved to be back in a routine. Grateful that basically everything is exactly as we left it three months ago. Lucky to have the luxury of time to figure out what comes next.

Covid completely changed the landscape of day to day life for a huge swath of the population, and an estimated 98% of US residents experienced at least some degree of disruption. This helped create an environment of increased consciousness and awareness as we now as a society confront the massive systemic disparities and inequalities that have pulsed beneath the surface throughout our lifetimes.

What comes next will matter. Personally, I'm taking this opportunity to revisit my hopes / dreams / goals for the year, and re-imagine how they fit into this newly emerging bigger picture.


  1. I am in a similar spot to you. This pause has given me time to think and reflect on many things. Even though work never slowed down (in fact it got more intense) everything else did. I’m kinda liking that extra space.

    1. Yea for real. A lot of stuff here is opening back up and getting back up to a normal speed but it still... just feels different

  2. Oh May had a really similar tick bite in a similar spot. A woman at my barn does red light therapy, and it made a HUGE difference really quickly.

  3. Oh em GEE, Charlie- of all places to get bit :( Glad life is returning to semi-normal for you guys!

    1. i could. not. believe. that horse, like wtf. of all places. and it's the second freakin time he did that too, just a few inches apart!! ugh... like, tell your friends to aim literally anywhere else (except the back, plz!)

  4. That is one nasty bite!! Agreed, soooo many other places he could've gotten bitten instead of there! I'm glad things are starting to return to normal for you guys!

    1. soooo nice to be getting back into a rhythm of dressage, sj, xc, hacking, etc!

  5. Glad you're getting back into routine. That's huge. Even if it's different than before.

    1. thanks - it definitely IS feeling different in some ways than before, but i'm not sad about it, not at all actually. feels like i got pulled out of some tunnel vision haha and have a chance to make sure what i'm aiming for is actually what's important to me. always a nice opportunity!

  6. First - really charlie? Bit in the armpit or is that the equivalent of a horse serratus? Hopefully there is no second lockdown so you are able to get some semblance of a fall season in there!

    1. lol that bite... honestly i didn't think it would generate so much conversation compared to everything else in the post! but yea. shows have already started here, i just don't feel any urgency to get to them, don't really feel the same way i felt before the shut down. we'll see what happens later i guess!

  7. Yeah for some Charlie pics! :-) I'm with ya on not feeling the same about stuff - well almost everything, tbh - as in the "before" times. Interesting to see how things evolve as we move forward.

    1. yea i'm really curious to see how things shake out too -- i've got a couple ideas to pursue, etc, but am feeling fairly energized actually haha. and yesssss for charlie pics!! actually, there's more charlie video coming soon too <3 <3


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