Monday, July 13, 2020

Thornridge CT @ T

Happy Monday, everyone!! This weekend Charlie and I finally finally got to complete an actual two-phase CT at training level!! Sure, it was just a very small local schooling thing haha... BUT! In my book, it totally counts to have to sign up at a level, show up that day, and do the things (ideally while not dying)!

Previously, we've done a handful of 3'3 jumper rounds, plus a few fix-a-test events for the dressage portion. But our actual fledgling attempts at any sort of multi-phase event have not exactly been fruitful lol (*ahem* falling in the N/T division at Full Moon Farm's Aloha trials... entering a schooling HT at T this past spring only to have it cancelled bc of covid...).

basically champions <3 <3 <3 just don't ask how many riders were actually in the class LOL....
Obviously, coronavirus has really turned my whole plans for the year upside down -- and honestly made me rethink some of my goals altogether. So at this point, in this year 2020, I'm trying to make all my decisions at a little bit more of a "gut" level, if that makes sense.

In other words, when I hear about any sort of upcoming outing, event, or adventure, I try to figure out if I feel kinda "meh" about it, or if I have a full blown "Hell Yes!" feeling.

our crew! L to R is Charlie, Punky, Austin and Royal!!
This CT was 100% in the "Hell Yes!" category haha, for me and for a few barn mates too. So obviously we made a little party out of it!

You might remember I went to an event at this farm last summer soon after falling off at Full Moon. At that point, tho, we just did a couple jumper rounds and skipped out on the dressage test altogether. Bc I figured, eh. I already knew our dressage is shitty, and at that moment it felt more important to focus on show jumping.

warm up in the lovely dream magic footing of the indoor
This time, tho, we were ready to put the pieces together. Like.... Not necessarily bc our dressage is any better (hint: it isn't LOL), but bc I was so much less stressed out about it all and felt like I could mentally juggle a little better.

Charlie, for his sake, was extremely good in the dressage. This horse, he probably thought he was showing up for the Grand Prix. No joke. In warm up he was alllllll business -- nice and forward, soft on the contact, steering and transitioning and generally being a Very Good Boy.

test in the absolutely gorgeous outdoor
He carried that feeling right on into the test itself too. We put together what felt like a very reasonable test. Everything happened just about where it was supposed to, with just a few little blips.

I straight up forgot about the whole lengthening part of our first canter circle, Charlie jigged a little in anticipation in our medium walk, and somehow my second canter-trot transition caught me a littttttttle off guard lol.

Otherwise, tho, it was a pretty accurate reflection of where we're at on the flat. The 10m half turns were fine for us (meaning: the judge didn't think the horse was lame lol), our first canter-trot transition I thought was pretty nice, the stretchy circle felt good to me even if it didn't look like much, and I was actually quite pleased with the horse's effort at a lengthened trot (below!).

d'awwww Charles!! sure, the judge's comment was "more reach" but i still appreciate how far he's come!!
Some real talk tho: It wouldn't be totally accurate to say I've given up on dressage with Charlie but.... Well, I've definitely changed my attitude about it. For my level of skills as a dressage rider, and Charlie's typical way of going, it just really does not come easy and is also honestly not that enjoyable.

Or at least, it wasn't before I kinda shifted how I thought about it.

omg guys i actually have a video of our dressage test! 
believe it or not, i haven't seen a filmed test of us since OCTOBER 2018

For a while, it felt like my slightly ham-handed attempts at getting Charlie more dressage-y were actually counterproductive to my real goals: jumping.

Bc the thing is, the horse is a LOT to get put together, but he'll fake it if you let him poke around behind the leg. But poking around behind the leg is 1,000% not at all EVER where I want to be with this animal especially while we're trying to jump bigger things.

So in my head, I've kinda broken down the flatwork into components as they relate to jumping specifically -- rather than how they relate to any particular dressage levels or tests. Things like: adjustability in the gait, balance in turns, promptness in transitions, reliability in the connection.

the test scored a 36.9% / 63.1%
Maybe that sounds like... dumb, or "duh" or whatever. Or misguided or a cop out... I honestly don't really care. Because I'm just so happy with the feeling I'm getting right now from Charlie, both on the flat and over fences. We'll keep trying for more and better, but for now I'm pretty happy with the way he goes.

Naturally tho, lol, not a whole many dressage judges agree with my assessment haha, and that's ok too. Our score was 6% points off the leader -- in a class of two. Oh well!

I certainly wasn't gonna sit around feeling sorry for ourselves, bc we had the jomping to do!! AND, I'm continuing the trend from last spring with finally bringing coaching to our warm up ring.

lol if you ignore the flying rail it's a lovely shot of charles!!
And honestly it really is helpful. I tend to be pretty economical in the warm up, not really jumping much more than I think I have to...

But also when things start to get a little rough -- like let's say Charlie is getting strong and running, or we're having a couple bad jumps in a row -- I start feeling like, "shit I'm already fucking this up, might as well just get into the ring right away before it gets any worse!"

homeboy was very careful after our first few oopsies haha
Luckily, tho, with a coach there (who could also set fences for me -- major bonus) we were able to break the pattern. First few jumps were great, as they often are, then we had a couple decidedly not great jumps.

But -- and I know this will shock you -- we worked through it and fixed the issue, then went into the ring lol. Crazy stuff, guys haha....

jumped the SHIT out of this oxer!
And the round itself?? Honestly? It was fine haha. Not our greatest, but also pretty reasonable. The poles are all PVC which means they fall pretty easily, so I didn't exactly expect to go clear. Which... we definitely did not.

First rail at the first fence was definitely my fault too -- it was a bending line and you'll see in the video I tried to turn him too early (maybe was worried he'd try to lock onto the wrong fence?) and caused his hind end to drop too soon.

Second rail at the second fence (whoops) I think was just a lazy accident. Nbd tho.

ugh i wish the higher quality camcorder i bought for this exact reason actually, ya know, worked..... sigh
After that, tho, Charlie actually grew a little bit of a conscience and started jumping much higher and more carefully!! Good boy!!

We did the next two related lines pretty reasonably, tho the last line got a little tight after losing some balance at an end jump. To be honest, tho, I was super impressed with how hard Charlie tried even when we got so close to the last. Probably should have put a little more bend in that line, but it worked out.

hang in there, buddy, we're almost done!
Of everything about it, honestly I'm happiest about how more or less relaxed I was. Case in point: as we're making the turn after fence 2 to the first related line, I had the presence of mind to notice my videographer friend had the camera oriented the wrong way and asked him to fix it as we cantered on by to the next jump LOL.

Which... ok, admittedly that's pretty silly. But dammit! I get so few videos of us these days, and have especially few of us jumping at this height. So... Ya know. #priorities lol

video of our round!!

Obviously the rails were sorta a bummer, even tho I expected them. Turns out tho, while the other rider in the T division had a rail too, she still would have had it in the bag even if we'd gone clear. Bc.... yeeaahhh dressage lol.

all the happy bay boys after the ride! hilariously, none of these horses are herd mates, but they've been in lessons and trailers together for so many years they're all good friends haha
Mostly I was just happy to have done it. And felt almost like we were getting away with murder by being totally finished before 9:30am, omg.

Obviously we had to stick around to cheer on the rest of our group through their classes too -- and I'm happy to report that everyone did really really well! Everyone did nicely in the dressage and had pretty excellent jumping! A couple rails here and there, but again it's to be expected with PVC poles.

lol the best thing about a brontosaurus neck is that you can reach across the entire width of a trailer to get dat cookie!
It also felt really good to go through the whole competition procedure for the first time since last fall. All the bathing and packing, having a group set up at the trailer, remembering how to deal with my horse's studs.... And letting the horses remember the whole atmosphere and rhythm too.

Here's hoping we'll get a few more chances before whatever 2020 wants to throw at us next!


  1. Finished by 930? And two beautiful looking rides in each phase? What a day! Congrats =)

  2. Yay I'm so glad you were able to get out there finally and do the thing! And Charles looks so happily forward, too!

  3. That is a bummer about the rails but congratulations on finishing at T!!!

  4. Wooooop!
    Loving that Charlie was feeling like a professional fancy prancer in the Dressage court <3 What a wonderful feeling! I know it seems like Dressage really is not his forte and I know it's difficult for him, but you guys really have come a long ways.

  5. Hurray for a low key schooling show! And it sounds like it was a good way to apply what you've been practicing and you saw results!

  6. Congrats on the training outing!!! Finished by 9:30 would be the only reason I'd ever even dream of moving beyond intro level. It always runs last and I'm a morning, get it done and move on, person. Anyway...Charlie looks good and what a great feeling heading into the day that he was business like and ready. That in itself is a major win.

  7. Looks like fun! So glad you were able to get out there and conquer Training!

  8. Yay! So glad you were finally able to knock out Training! That sucks about the rails, but you guys really looked fabulous. Congrats!!

  9. You guys did it! And well! Glad you weren't feeling nervous, and actually got to have some fun! You both look great!

  10. Sounds like a fun day out! I can't wait to get back out there myself so reading your post has cheered me up immensely!

  11. yeah! how exciting to get out and do something horsey! And woohoo a ribbon! :-) Glad to hear you had a good outing with Charlie and some friends.

  12. Well done! I watched your dressage test and damn! You guys have come so far. Charlie is definitely moving more from behind and is engaged in the whole test. I disagree with her assessment that he needs more overstep - he just needs to stretch over the back and stay down consistently but that's okay, I am not the judge. :)

    You should be pleased with how you have brought him along. I thought you did a really solid test.

    And the jump round looked like you two were really in sync.

  13. Yay! Horse shows are back! Nicely done, Charlie (and Emma ;)

  14. Dannnng when did you guys start jumping so big?? ;-) Your dressage test is a heck of a lot better than I could have ever done!

  15. Those transitions are swoonworthy! And hell yeah for getting it done in SJ!

  16. Yay, great outing! And nice ride over those jumps. Way to recover/keep the wheels on after a bumpy first couple fences. Good boy, Charlie! Great job, Emma!


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