Monday, April 19, 2021

stepping stones

Finally finally after what feels like forever, we had a jump lesson in the arena in nice weather -- and in which we actually jumped full courses of appropriately sized fences. Hallelujah! 

woot woot we got media again!! look at this chuckopotamus go!!
Like I wrote last week, we've been kinda tinkering around over the fences in our solo schooling, stringing things together and trying to remember how to ride etc. But... Let's be real, it's always very welcome to get the actual lesson. Esp as it relates to jump crew, ahem, cough cough... 

the fiercest tho
Lol. Anyway. It was kinda a bizarre set up, to be honest. Our group was slightly large, with horses at about 3 different levels. Plus there were a couple other people schooling around the ring on young and/or green horses. 

i swear, we haven't coursed at this height (N) since last year, but charlie still makes the jumps look about 2' lol....
I kept our warm up super basic, just doing exactly what we've been doing lately: Lots of freely flowing trot around and around and around, trying to just let Charlie loosen up and find his way up in front of my leg.  

the funnest 
Charlie wanted to be a little sulky in canter, but actually it was really very very half-hearted. If anything, we're maybe starting to reap the fruits of our conditioning labors. Charlie tried to suck back, I put my foot down about "forward," and.... that was it. Off Charlie went -- including throwing in some absolutely marvelous trotting to finish the warm up! 

jumping around the crowd
Same story into the jumps too, much to my absolute delight. Which.... was a relief because initially I had some misgivings about the lesson.....

wheeeee go chuck GO!
Because we had such a mixed group of horses, all the warm up fences started SMALL. I'm talking: cross rails and itsy bitsy verticals. Like, smaller than what I've been schooling on my own. Not exactly the type of mileage I feel compelled to pay for the privilege of supervision, ya know? 

moderately terrified jumping this big guy into a 30' in-and-out....
But, trainer P indulged me by incorporating more "mini courses" into the warm up. Stringing 2-3 fences together at a time, rather than jumping each individual jump or line, starting and stopping constantly. 

we survived it tho!! 
It's honestly those moments between fences -- esp as we get deeper into a course -- where Charlie and I are the rustiest. So this feeling was very welcome. And actually --- the whole warm up is in the helmet camera portion of the video (starts after the cell phone clips of our final trips) if you're curious to see how we progressed and what size fences we started with in the lesson. 

aaaaaaand, repeating the whole course again. ping!
Charlie felt pretty great - nicely forward and really taking me to the fences. Definitely exactly the feeling I want for when the jumps eventually go up again. 

Which... prodded me to mention to trainer P that, just oh-so-coincidentally, a couple of us in the group were thinking of going to a CT in a couple weeks, and would all be doing novice.... so maybe, pretty please, could we consider bumping up from cross rails?? 

i just love his serious face omg
I kinda assumed she'd raise the course piecemeal for each of the horses in the group, and maybe I'd do a course at BN first before they went up to N. But, lol, nah. Trainer P went directly from like 2' to N, and off we went! 

had to repeat this line a bunch since we kept knocking it 
It was kinda hilarious bc.... Well, for the three of us in the group at this level, our horses have plenty of experience at that height, but it's just been a couple months since we've seen it. So it was a slight shock bumping up so fast haha. But it was fine, all the horses were super. 

emma: "whoa sir!"     charlie: "you're not my real mother!" 
Tho, somewhat annoyingly, while the fences looked enormous to my eye, Charlie always makes them look so small in pictures, womp haha. 

d'aww but he was perfect over the out <3 <3 
Anyway, it was honestly great to get out there and do courses at this height again. Charlie was IN GEAR in no uncertain terms -- doing the step, auto-changing, finding all his spots. Just... Exactly that forward feeling I've been trying to cultivate lately. Yessss!

just imagine this is an in-focus close up shot of charlie being magnificent, whilst jumping small ponies
On the flip side, however, I'm kinda rusty at a very fundamental level. I need to recalibrate ALL my aids. Like, the aid to ask Charlie to move up really doesn't have to be a big push -- I don't need to gun him at the fences. 

Simultaneously tho -- I do need to actually make my half halts stick haha. Can't just sit there sorta hanging dead on the reins hoping Charlie will slow his own self down -- nope nope. Instead, I needed some reminders that actually it's up to me to make choices about our canter. 

Like... Maybe don't careen around the end of the arena assuming the absurdly short 30' in-and-out will work itself out for your horse who barely fit the normal strides in the rest of the lines.... 

and back into the terrifying two stride of death lol
Trainer P even reminded me that I could circle if I needed, and discussed adding more bit or swapping my leather curb strap for a chain. But... I honestly felt like the mistakes were more mine in that I didn't ask for as much as I could have -- mostly bc my feel is so rusty. 

We ended up doing the full course twice, then one of the lines one more time, just to clean up all those spaces in between the jumps. I was pretty proud of myself for doing that too. Especially since the second round did improve on the first, woot woot. 

you're a good boy chuck <3 
So often I kinda just want to survive once and call it a day... But again, what we really need right now is more practice, and more mileage -- just repeating our ABCs again and again to remember how to do everything etc. 

It was also a great reminder just how good Charlie can be at at this stuff. He's really not a complicated horse to ride -- jumping is easy for him and he LIKES it, especially when he's not slugging around behind my leg. Now we just gotta remember how to tune it all up again LOL...


  1. Charlie looks like he is having a blast out there!!

    1. i think he was!!! i often get lulled into just plodding along bc it's "easy" and feels like it's nicer to not fuss at him about going forward. but... actually, once he's going forward it's WAY more fun for everyone, go figure!

  2. LOVE the pony jump picture - you seriously can't tell that the jumps are novice height until the pony is in the picture. I have such a hard time speaking up to ask for things like the height adjustment, glad that you did and it was rewarded with a great lesson!

    1. definitely the best feeling we've gotten in a lesson in a LONG time -- probably since last summer... and yea, haha, charlie is so friggin gigantic that he dwarfs basically everything around him lol it's annoying (but then again, the jumps look just as small from his back too so... winning?)

  3. I feel like we should lesson together. Lol!
    Glad you got to get some instruction over the bigger fences! Sounds like the right lesson at the right time!

    1. oooh haha that would be awesome! and yea i'm glad we finally got to get back to course work again, super reassuring that i haven't totally forgotten LOL! still not feeling great about the level of instruction we're getting (ie: basically none, listen closely to the video to see what i mean), but the mileage alone counts for so much!

  4. Charlie and you look like you're in the zone. What a great lesson. Those fences looked huge to me! I was also really distracted by the fact that the trees all had leaves and it looked like spring. :)

    1. ha spring has SPRUNG around these parts, omg! we're actually getting close to summer at times... it almost feels too soon lol

  5. Glad you had such a good lesson!! He looks like he can cover ground down the lines so easily if he opens his step a little!

    1. Lol true story: I wrote last week that we accidentally did one stride in a 36’ distance haha ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  6. What a awesome lesson!!
    And look at Chuck, jumping ponies and everything. haha.

  7. Zoom zoom Chuck! I had to lol at the pic of you guys zooming around a corner. Glad you had fun and Chuck was doing his thing!

    1. lol i LOVE when charlie's in zoom-zoom mode, haha, provided i can actually still impose some degree of order on the chaos lol.....

  8. I also tend to make my go aid bigger than the whoa aid lol

  9. Looking good! Although I think it's rude how us as riders amp ourselves up to jump all these "huge" fences and then our horses make them look small and easy in photos LOL

    1. lol right?? it was so much easier to get 'epic' looking photos with little 14.3 isabel haha... tho, it's also easier to be less freaked out about pointing charlie at bigger stuff so... trade-offs, i guess!

  10. I need a Charlie to get me back into jumping - he makes everything look so tiny! Also because he's a very good boy who obviously likes his job!

    1. i might be biased, but i'm about 1000% sure *everybody* needs a charlie <3

  11. Yay!! Jump lesson! You guys both look great, your feel will come back before you know it.


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