Tuesday, August 11, 2020

the clown show

This has obviously been a crazy year for goal setting and horse showing and basically all levels of expectations and reality. You don't need me to tell you that, lol. And like so many of you, I basically swept everything I thought 2020 would be right out the window months ago.

At this point, my only real focus with riding is to continue doing the things that are exciting to me - that sound like fun, positive opportunities. One such idea popped into my head a couple weeks ago: maybe Charlie and I could enter our annual home show?

cherry picked pretty hard to find even this mediocre shot lol
After talking through the pros and cons etc with various friends and trusted professionals etc, we decided to go for it! There seemed to be a lot of advantages for showing at home too, ya know? 

Like Charlie could chill in his stall all day... And obvi we're super familiar with all the grounds and jumps etc, had plenty of opportunities to walk the courses multiple times, and obvi skipped all the packing and driving. Plus I even managed to pick up a discounted entry from another local rider who couldn't use it!

idk we did the things so that's good 'nuff!
I was also super SUPER grateful to have a few friends on hand to help out with all the things (mostly relating to moral support lol bc y'all already know I can be a hot mess). Shout out to Austen, Rachael and Jay for that lol!

Things started off well enough in dressage too. Our ride was late enough that there was plenty of time for stuff like braids and studs (since riding in grass ring), and Charlie had done me the favor of staying clean overnight lol.

glad it's over
He was pretty darn good for the test too, at least, when measured against my own personal yard stick. He was responsive, not pulling on me, going when I said go, and whoa-ing when I said whoa. And ya know.... that's basically it haha. 

Which is another way of saying.... Well, it ain't much lol. I kinda sorta gave up on dressage a few months ago and.... it definitely shows. We need to be rounder in general, and needed a little bit more of everything in this particular test too. 

I never picked up the test so idk what it actually scored, but probably some combinations of 6s and 6.5s, for a final score of 38%. Which.... was about what I expected after finishing the ride lol. 

our combined expressions here lol... we both know some shit's about to go down
Honestly, for my purposes, the day was always going to be about the jumping. Which meant I was more than a little surprised when my trainer mentioned a few days prior that she wouldn't be available for coaching. I had kinda just assumed by our conversations that coaching was a given, but you know what they say about assumptions. 

And esp in this covid-era, volunteers are increasingly hard to get so running the show was basically an 'all hands on deck' situation. It just hadn't occurred to me that she'd be busy.... esp considering how coaching was kiiiiiiinda a critical part of my game plan lol. 

So, uh, lesson learned: maybe next time I should use my words instead of just making assumptions?

annoyed that charlie punched this one out with a front
Because it was pretty much immediately apparent when we arrived at warm up that.... things were not getting off to a great start haha. Charlie was AMPED omg. 

I'm not sure exactly what set him off -- he's competed successfully in this exact same field set up multiple times (including that one time we won at N....). But whatever the case, Charlie was lit. And very barn sour. Just getting through our warm up was.... challenging. 

The warm up jumps were well arranged (sometimes they get placed in a more sloping part of the hill that I distinctly do not like haha) but we had issues with going toward/away from the barn, and with rating speed and balance. 

OOOH, and. Haha, And. Tack issues.... Turns out my fancy new soft grip Nunn Finer reins are slippery as fuck and I straight up could not hold on to them. 

charlie 'n emma: terrifying innocent bystanders since 2016
Actually, to be perfectly honest, I had the wrong bridle on altogether. Should have had a flash strap on, 100%, and possibly a different bit. As it was, Charlie was basically yanking the reins right out of my hands, singing "La la la la, I can't hear you!!!" as he merrily dragged my ass around warm up. It was embarrassing. 

The jumps were ok, tho. Actually, the warm up jumps were fine. Just.... Everything in between was no good. So idk. I guess I hoped for the best and went in for our round determined to stay active as a rider. 

emma: "charlie i swear this is a 6, buddy -- plz wait for it!!!"
Which... Eh. I feel like I was semi-successful in that endeavor, at least to start. Like, cantering around to the first jump I actually had this moment of being like, "Emma. Sit the fuck down in that saddle and ride this horse in a balance to the first fence."

And actually, jump 1 kinda went ok. Altho Charlie just punched it the fuck out of the cups bc obviously. Jump 2 had a slightly fussy turn but Charlie got himself organized and jumped the crap out of it. Sadly my video is from the wrong angle to see it, but the pro got a nice shot. Maybe I'll suck it up and buy that but... Eh, maybe not lol.

The next jumps were set on a 6 stride line (pictured above and below) with a little downhill dip in the middle, and I knew from watching other riders that it would ride short for us. 

ping!!!
Somehow tho we made it through that alive, and then over the next end jump too. Tho you can see in the video that we were definitely losing it. 

Next up came the triple, measured at 24' to 72' on the dot. Which we naturally did in 1.5 (taking the middle element) to 4. All with me practically standing up and back in my stirrups trying desperately to get those slippery reins back. 

pictured: what it looks like after doing 4 in 72'
And like. Side note. This is what's so annoying about Charlie on video. He makes the 4 strides look almost reasonable. Practically like I'm just holding him back from getting the right distance. His 14' stride looks natural and proportionate for his big body and long legs. 

But ya know. The combinations are set for a 12' stride. And at this point we really don't have any excuse for getting that strung out in show jumping. 

wheels firmly off the bus
So ok. We made it through the triple after leaving a stride out, with 2 rails already on the card. We took the next rail after whiffing it to the two stride too, then landed in a heap and circled. During which circle I literally wrapped the reins around my fist in a desperate attempt to find grip. 

20 penalties later tho and we did indeed finish the damn thing
Made it over that jump then circled again. I had already decided in the first circle that we'd be withdrawing, but was determined to finish the round. So looking at the video makes me think I maybe kinda gave up a little bit tho with the second circle. 

But eh.... At that point I preferred to take the penalty in exchange for a better final jump since none of it really mattered anyway. And we did indeed get a pretty good shot at the final fence, go figure.

oh sir. you are so extra.
So. Lol. Finally through the finish flags. I eventually was able to pull the horse up, too lol. I let the judge know on my way out that we'd be withdrawing, to which she replied "Good." haha... Sigh.

Talk about a mortifying spectacle. And I fully admit to being more than a little disappointed. Mostly in myself (and also those slippery fucking reins which are now #forsale). But also a little with Charlie. 

I just straight up don't get to ride this side of him very often -- and virtually never in lessons (where we go in a simple loose ring snaffle and can adjust and half halt and all the things...). So it catches me totally off guard when he's wild like this. And considering we've been schooling 3'3 for two years at this point, I can't rely on the jumps to back him off any more either.
 


So. Yea. 'Twas a clown show haha. I have exactly zero regrets about withdrawing before cross country, tho. There's just no way in hell it could have gone well.

Even if Charlie had somehow by the grace of god settled into a rhythm, it's almost guaranteed that I would have still ridden too defensively and not trusted the forward when we needed it.

On one hand I'm sorta proud of myself for giving it a shot at all, but eh. I don't feel particularly inclined to repeat that experience any time soon either LOL. Ugh. Horses, man. 


39 comments:

  1. I'm sorry to hear that the show didn't go as planned... Good for you for getting out there. Sometimes making the call to withdraw is hard too.

    Too bad about those reins being slippery! Not good when Charles engages beast mode...

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    1. lol yea the reins situation was.... massively unhelpful. i guess that's why conventional wisdom says don't change your equipment right before a competition?? whoops...

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  2. Charlie Train going CHOO CHOO. HANG ON, EMMA!

    But for real, that ride does NOT look easy in the jumping round. Oof. You look so calm through pieces that my stomach was literally clenching through - v impressed! Sorry it had to happen this way though. Ack.

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    1. lol "calm" is one way to say it.... "resigned to my fate" is another. as is "over this shit" lolololol.....

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  3. Awe..sorry the day wasn't good. I think its pretty awesome though that you thought your way through that round and were making decisions in the moment to set you guys up as best as you could given the issues at hand. My brain shuts off completely a lot of the times on course.

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    1. dude staying present and active during the ride is a constant struggle haha... something i've been really trying to work on in lessons too. i still feel like there were times i kinda gave up and slid into passenger mode instead of pilot during the ride above but, ya know, it's a work in progress lol

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  4. It is so hard when a different horse shows up at shows than in lessons/clinics, pulling the old bait-n-switch so you never have a chance to school (or get pro help) with "the other guy". That said, jazzed Charlie can jump pretty well! Hopefully you guys find a productive middle ground soon!

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    1. lolol the jumps were definitely the least of our problems! and yea it would have helped for my trainer to be there to actually see us in action... sigh, c'est la vie!

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  5. Man, way to ride it out. That did not look easy or enjoyable. It's so hard to show a totally different horse than you have in lessons. Cosmo is like that, too: lazy at home, on fire at shows. Coaching def helps when you have someone who can call you out at the show and say "ride differently" but the only way to practice riding on fire, is to go to more shows, which is not easy or affordable. Way to make it around, shitty reins and all!

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    1. ugh for sure. the thing is.... charlie *doesn't* always act like this tho, ya know? like yes he is always a different horse at shows.... but not quite like this. of all the jumper shows, clinics, CTs, etc that we've done this year (including one just a couple weeks ago), he was not at ALL like this -- which is maybe why i was so surprised haha

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  6. I hate those effing reins! I had a pair, rode in them exactly once and literally threw them in the trash. And when I said I hated them, everyone was all, you're dumb they're the best. I had to tie knots in them to hold on, but the knots didn't even hold. And that was flatting Eros! (Sorry for the rant. I just really hate those reins.)
    Anyway, good job for getting the course finished. Sometimes showing at home is harder than traveling.

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    1. lol i feel personally betrayed by those reins.... i wanted them for so so so SO long, always lingered by them whenever i was at a tack shop... but the cheapies and used reins i already had were fine so i could never justify the cost... but then covid hit and i basically splurged on them and all the other pretty things i've always wanted..... and THIS is how they repay me??? UGH haha

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  7. Agree with Carey, that did not look enjoyable. :( I guess it can just get filed into the least dumpstery part of the 2020 dumpster fire lol

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    1. lol yea... basically par for the course at this point, right?? siiiiiigh

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  8. Ugh sorry. Yep this whole year's been a clown show!

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  9. I do love those reins but you HAVE to wear gloves with them! HAHA OMG The same thing happened to me the very first time I took Chimi XC schooling in them and didn't wear gloves... oops! If they stay dry (basically in the fall and winter when no one is sweating profusely) they're great but for summer riding... gloves are a must.

    Sorry the show didn't go as planned...but you guys look freaking awesome over the last jump!!! Charlie looks like he's ready for KY in the landing picture :)

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    1. lol charlie was certainly very very impressed with himself after all those jumping efforts!! if the only difference in moving up was the height, we'd be fine lol... but, turns out, they expect you to be able to turn and adjust and balance and small little details like that haha.... sigh

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  10. I have those reins on both my horse's bridles right now. Love them... Unless it's pouring rain. Then they're actually liquid snot in my hands.🤮 But srsly, you did a great job all weekend and it was awesome to see you working toward your goals. ❤️

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    1. thanks ;) was great getting to hang with you throughout the day too -- appreciate all your help!!!

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  11. The dressage test was pretty good. The two jumping round had me worried for you! Having a horse throw a wrench in shows is where I live so I am happy to welcome you to my exclusive club. 😁🙄

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    1. the dressage part is kinda buggin me right now haha. i spent a LOT of time, money and energy trying to improve the quality of our work in the last two years and reeeeeally didn't feel like we saw any difference whatsoever in scores. plus i worried my poor efforts were also kinda feeding into and enabling my tendencies to ride on too short and backward a stride. so.... idk.... i kinda just stopped working on it lol. but we've definitely backslid in that department so i might try to get back into more lessons. maybe. lol

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    2. It can be really frustrating in this club. There’s not a lot of ribbonsmbut there is lots of wine 🍷🥂

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  12. You are going to kill yourself or your horse doing this. Stop jumping and moving up to levels you have no business riding at, go back and learn your basics like how to use your seat and what a half halt is. You need to be jumping starter, not attempting suicide by training and blowing it off as "tack issues". Stop bitting up your poor fucking horse and learn to ride him.

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    1. Ah, the anonymous poster who is able to make a judgement and dispense decrees. 🙄🙄 Your comments are unkind, ignorant and not helpful.

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    2. Please post a video of you jumping.

      Oh wait, you're anonymous. How stunning and brave of you 🙄

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    3. lol Teresa i've been getting a ton of anonymous comments on the blog lately begging for sex.... i wonder if it's the same person??

      and KC -- wouldn't that be some shit too?? if every catty rail bird actually shut up and put up instead?? lol....

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    4. Dear Anonymous - You're an ASSHOLE. Yes, you.
      I would sincerely love to see you ride this horse (or any horse) under the same circumstances with your majick seat and your approved bit. Please, post a video for us. Take your bullshit elsewhere. It's not welcome here.

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    5. I was getting those invites for sex too! Final went and removed the ability for anonymous posts!

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  13. Holy shit, those are the exact reins I got specifically for GRIP and found in SJ warmup at Chatt Hills that those reins = ZERO GRIP. With gloves or without, no grip if there's even the slightest amount of moisture. I just bought the Vespucci Edwina Jumper reins and have used them in the rain, and in SJ/XC for both VA and Windridge and they are srsly the best.

    Moving on- I'm so damn proud of you. If I'd been in SJ warmup at Chatt alone without Trainer B when the Rabid Antelope reared his head, I would've scratched. You have serious cajones, guuuurl. And even tho you both rock at XC, making the choice to come back another day was probably the right one.

    You guys are going to rock Training (once you get different reins, bwahaha)!

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    1. dude those reins were a huge disappointment to me haha... as was not getting the coaching. like.... it's only really since this past winter that we started getting coaching at events at all, so on one hand basically all my showing experience has been done without... meaning i'm more or less used to it. but a big goal for the year (pre-covid) was to focus on mentorship kinda for this exact reason. i'm not sure if it would have made much of a difference in that moment but... possibly would have been more helpful for coming up with a game plan for next time. ah well!

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  14. I'm always in awe of people who can ride without gloves because I sweat like a demon, even through mine! I used to LOVE those reins, but now I've been embracing a chunkier, more coarse style of rubber reins for this reason -- also, because I LOVE easing out rein length like it's my job! Perhaps he was just feeling fresh because he was at home and it was one of only a few shows this year? So much solidarity over here with the 14ft stride:)

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    1. Don't know why this is showing as unknown (it's Niamh & Scout)

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    2. dude, new blogger is buggy as crap haha... i don't even know what's going on with logins and profiles.

      anyway tho, yea he was definitely Fresh AF haha, probably for those exact reasons. i'd kinda always rather have us err on the side of him really dragging my ass to the fences vs sucking back and getting nappy / stuck... but eh a happy medium would be nice!!

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  15. i feel like there should be a public recall on those reins for xc... the best 'grip' i had on them was when i also used neumann's tackified gloves. which, if anyone is reading this, the sweatier your reins get the BETTER it grips. they are pure magic.

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    1. i've heard great things about those gloves, actually. it's so weird, i've gone through very distinct phases with gloves -- with each phase lasting literally years. years when i will wear gloves for every.single.ride, every time no matter what. and then... i just stop lol. right now i'm decidedly in the "no gloves" camp (for whatever reason) so... eh, would prefer reins that work bare handed. which... 100% not these reins, esp on a horse that pulls, dear lord omg LOL

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  16. Wow what a bummer. Sucks your trainer or another trainer you've worked with couldn't have made it to your warm up. Back to doing homework and figuring it out!

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  17. He sure had a fire under his butt for some reason.. also it's clear from the video that you can't hang onto those reins and having had that happen to me when I forgot gloves... that is so frustrating!

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  18. Ouch, so sorry about the reins! And if it's going badly... withdrawing sure as heck beats going out there and getting either of you hurt. I remain confident that you'll get things sorted out.

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