Monday, March 22, 2021

can't buy it, only rent it

This past week featured some off-the-cuff scheduling shake ups, and actually ended up working out better than expected. 

Originally, we were going to take the horses back to that beautiful new local farm for another dressage clinic with Jess, formerly of Hilltop. And this time I was gonna suck it up and actually bring Charlie too -- for our first proper dressage lesson in damn near forever. 

beautiful charlie <3
It would mean forgoing our typical weekly jump lesson with Trainer P, tho, which made me a little sad. Esp since we'd already missed the prior week while Charlie eased back into work post-hock injections. And of course, that was the week the lessons all went out xc, go figure, womp. 

But, then -- the day before the clinic, Jess learned she'd had a covid exposure and had to cancel. Obviously a huge bummer --- and an important reminder that we're still not quite out of this thing yet... Tho at least it meant we could do our jump lesson after all!

omg charlie LOVES the little shetland stallions tho <3 <3 <3
(tho... i still keep him a respectful distance from them jusssst in case lol)
Which.... was a good thing. Bc damn, I still really am not feeling it right now in the jumping department. It's like I feel constantly under prepared -- like Charlie isn't fit enough, or we're out of practice, or idk.... 

I can come up with a million excuses for why maybe we shouldn't be doing what we're doing. Or why we should be doing it slightly differently. Or, something??

jumping a little box!
I recently heard a great quote tho (from a mountain biker, go figure) that 'you can't buy skill, you only just rent it.' In other words.... Skills, confidence, strength --- it's all fleeting. Just because something was 'easy' a year ago doesn't necessarily mean we'll feel great about it today. 

And at this particular moment.... Well. Y'all have seen what we've been up to this past winter, and it really ain't much. So lessons right now are kinda more about just reminding myself that it's going to be a process of getting back into the habit again haha.  

jumping TWO little boxes!
Actually, what I'd really like to do in lessons right now is some straight up course work. Stringing things together with steady constant reminders to keep riding the way I've been taught. 

Realistically, Charlie is a very different horse at Jump 1 than he is at Jump 5. Often for Jump 1, esp in the last couple months as he's come due for getting his hocks done, he can be sulky and behind the leg. Whereas, once we're on course he really gets rolling and strong.

triple: one-to-two stride grid, vertical-oxer-oxer
When we do just one line at a time, tho, I'm basically only ever riding Jump 1 Charlie, and never Jump 5 Charlie. Which then makes me freak out about having to do an actual course bc "Omg I haven't ridden Jump 5 Charlie in so long tho! What if I forgot how??" lol.... 

Tho... Again, at this point any sort of practice is a good thing, and grids will always be a favorite for Charlie. And this week, trainer P had a whole big PLAN: a big center line grid, some angled lines, and maybe some skinny practice too. 

exactly the same grid done the opposite direction: two-to-one stride, oxer-oxer-vertical
The grids were great, too. And so were the skinnies. Just the little brick wall boxes that Charlie's jumped a million times in various configurations. 

Charlie was super good about them as stand alone skinnies - stayed super straight and seemed to fully understand the question. Possibly our canter or technique could have been better, lol, but for an easy familiar exercise it was fine.

then doubled: one-two-two-one; vertical-oxer-oxer-oxer-vertical
Ditto the long grid. Initially we only had half of it up, and went through it once each way. So then once the full grid was set it was one big long run of 5 fences. 

We attempted to bypass "Jump 1 Charlie" by adding a plain single on the diagonal before the grid... But, ehhh it didn't really work lol and Charlie's first time through the whole line he was lazy and blah and knocked a bunch of them down. 

But we kept cruising around without stopping while they got reset, then tried again. He was much more forward and clicked into gear this time, so the whole thing was much smoother. And, possibly, a bit instructive for Charlie lol. Life is better when you GO, buddy!

farm is constantly being improved and under construction... this back path through the woods is currently fondly referred to as 'death valley' -- it's jusssst a little spooky rn lol
I opted to be done with that, since my ankle was killing me after being in the saddle for nearly 2 hours at this point (we had to help trainer P move all the fences to set up the big grid, so it was a longer-than-normal lesson). 

Plus I kinda wanted to stop on a good note, and figured a couple trips were plenty sufficient for Charlie's first jump school post injections.   

parking lot isn't much better right now either. added bonus: in between those two outbuildings behind the red truck to the left is a guy who may or may not be starting up a nail gun, circular saw, or other cacophonous power tool at literally any moment omg
All in all, it was reassuring to know that he's overall feeling better. There's still more work to do, tho, as always, and I'm pretty convinced that "consistency" will have to be a big part of it. 

I'm esp looking forward to more lessons practicing course work, getting out and stretching our legs and 'opening the pipes' lol. A fun sort of ride where we can just cruise around and get into a rhythm --- not so much starting and stopping, one jump or one line at a time. 

good boy charlie depositing me gently back at the mounting block since i'm still too crippled to dismount like a normal person...
We need to jump more often, basically. And at this point I'd love to do that via more consistent lessons. Actually having a real winter with multiple snow storms made for a somewhat haphazard schedule-- like we kinda just get whatever is up for grabs each week. 

Spring is finally here tho (hell yes!) and the ground quite suddenly firmed up all over the farm. So at least having places to actually ride won't be an excuse for me any more LOL... 

Tho naturally, lessons are cancelled next week too bc there's a schooling CT instead. Jury's still out on whether I'll actually ride in it, haha.... We'll see. It could be fun. 

you're a good boy, charlie <3
Lol.... In the meantime, it's good to log some solid reps over good exercises. Charlie honestly feels great right now, and much more forward and strong in the bridle than he has been. 

Hopefully we can get into more of a normal schedule now that spring is here complete with good ground and long days! I'm definitely thinking some long trots and canters through the woods and fields will be just the ticket for getting both of us back in shape! 


  1. I am so feeling this right now. Carmen has a definite lack of forward as we get back and it’s all because of the haphazard riding schedule. I have to remind myself to push a bit and, you know, remember how to ride. A 2 hour lesson would likely kill us, lol.

    1. ha seriously tho... the 'pushing myself a bit' part is just a constant struggle right now, but i figure every little bit helps, right? and yea 2hrs felt massively excessive -- like i have to work so hard to get my head in the game, but then sustaining that mental fortitude becomes a chore in and of itself (plus, ya know, the actual physical demands LOL)...

  2. I'm glad Charlie is feeling good post injections! That makes it a much easier road getting back to where you were. Really interesting point about fence 1 vs fence 5 horse, I've not ridden a horse like that, it's got to add an additional challenge for sure!

    Also, the area where power equipment could suddenly start running would freak me out- I'd be so worried they'd spin and run into something like the tractor if equipment suddenly turned on. Sorry, not helpful thoughts.

    1. lol not only is charlie a different horse from Fence 1 to Fence 5; he's also a *massively* different horse in lessons at home vs at shows. it makes it jussssst a little tricky for me, a naturally anxious rider, to feel like i've done my homework and am prepared lol...

      re: the spooky farm, luckily most of the horses are used to there being something ridiculous around every corner --- charlie mostly just tiptoes through the area craning his neck every which way. some horses tho, yea, have a slightly more tricky time haha

  3. I like that idea of renting talent, etc. Right now I realllllyyy need to go to Blockbuster or something because feeling low on all the things.

    1. omg YES.... if only there was a 'blockbuster' for "how to ride" i'd be allllllll over that lol....

  4. Ugh I feel this lol. May was really inconsistent over fences when we brought her back into work. Since she's such a stiff type (Body builder vs. ballet dancer), we ended up spending a ton of time getting her soft and supple through her body, and it has really helped! All roads to Rome. :-)

  5. Bummer you weren't able to do a Dressage lesson, but it sounds like the jumping lesson was chock full of good exercises! You already know how hard I've battled the Forward Demon with Annie, so I feel ya!

    1. lol to be perfectly honest, i'd rather jump at this point anyway. my trainer was planning on canceling the lessons for the day to run the clinic instead, so my only chance for a lesson would be with the dressage clinic. but... since the clinic was cancelled, jump lessons were back on. kinda a win win!

  6. Ohhh yes, I like that quote about renting talent! Totally true, and I've felt that plenty of times where I'm just on it, and a few days or a week later it's like nope, don't got it lol. It sucks about the dressage, but it sounds like the jumping lesson was still good and a great ride!

    1. yea exactly --- the days where we totally got it are so great, but it turns out that both horses AND riders kinda need consistency to keep it up... who knew! lol

  7. That is a really great quote, I'm going to have to remember that.

  8. I like that quote too, also fitting for my show recap....

    1. Oooh I hope that’s not foreshadowing (also hope you write soon, missing your updates!)


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