Friday, July 23, 2021

the quick and the..... very much alive!

Believe it or not, we haven't schooled cross country, even at home, since our epic lesson with Sally Cousins at Shawan Downs back in May. Because.... as I mentioned then, most of our farm's good portables actually go to Shawan for their recognized and starter horse trials. 

spoiler alert: every picture in this post is a rerun, since i took not a single shot, nor wore my helmet cam. but they're all more or less representative of location and/or actual jumps
The jumps return to our farm soon after -- but generally remain sitting hodge podge in the front field for an extended period until mgmt starts setting courses for our home recognized event (in August). 

Finally, those preparations are underway now and the portables have migrated back out to new and interesting positions across the farm's expansive grounds. AND, since I'm not foolish enough to repeat last year's mistakes and enter our own event as a competitor... I'm therefore allowed to school the jumps freely.

my blog, my rules. and omg this horse <3
Which, I finally did last night!!! It's cooled down substantially in the last week -- plus all the mowing and general grooming going on out in the fields means there are slightly fewer biting bugs out and about. 

And guys -- this was legit my favorite style of cross country schooling. Just me and Charlie. No studs, no spurs or crop. No big bridle or anything. Just us and the fences. And a neck strap, obvi. 

in this pic i'm jumping split rail to ditch (hard to see), but now these two jumps are set up in a bending line for BN -- actually not too too dissimilar from this shot
Bc: All I really wanted was to ride the horse forward and keep my god forsaken hands going with him no matter what. My most constant and enduring battle haha. 

And we kept it like.... surgically efficient. All told, I was on the horse for 26 min, including what it took to hack out to the fields, and strut back --- as only a conquering Charlie can do. And we jumped 8 fences total. 

despite this open oxer living at our home barn, i jumped it for the first time in actual competition vs schooling. that was years ago, tho. now it's an old friend
Trotted around a couple laps -- mostly to outrun the bugs, if I'm being honest. Ooh, and scope out where all the jumps were, since I haven't been out to the fields AT ALL recently (again, bc of said bugs). So we trotted a bit just to see what was what, and took advantage of whatever gates happened to be open.

I spotted a lovely Intro jump positioned beautifully on rising ground with expansive approaches from either direction -- perfect! It's actually a very nice jump -- a twisty log placed on top of this neat base that you can see about halfway through this old Krimpet post (the top log has since been replaced but it's the same base).

in our ride yesterday, it was similarly placed, but book-ended on either side by other level jumps -- and we jumped the opposite direction
We trotted the baby ditch on our way over, then cantered the log off each lead. Boom, Charles was strong and forward, but polite. Yesss! So we moved right on along to the generously lengthy BN bending line of split rail fences heading toward home. 

I don't usually jump Charlie toward home if I can avoid it, but figured this would be a good time early in the ride. Like maybe I kinda wanted to see if we'd be a mess, or if we could keep our shit together through a long line of small fences. Wouldn't ya know it, Charlie was all business!

look at this majestic brontosaurus thru the water!!! 
Longtime readers know I'm a huge fan of very short schools --- like, 6 jumps total type schools haha. So after accomplishing a warm up and the BN related distance combo cleanly, we moved on to something with a little height + width. 

The N open oxer was positioned coming back toward the water (in a similar spot to where our favorite log table was during our first xc lesson of the year). It was nestled between other jumps and tbh I heavily considered doing the beefy BN picnic table instead... But, eh, Charlie felt on point on so I looped a finger through the neck strap and had at it.

believe it or not, this bench still has not been painted....
Honestly, Charlie likes the jumps a little bigger anyway. He also knows this game -- another reason I like to keep things short. Charlie likes to be perfect the first time, but then gets cranky and grouchy if you keep asking him the same questions after he's already given you the right answer. So... again, we're economical lol. 

We landed from the oxer, took a little lap through the water just to say we did, then continued back toward the fields going home. Tho --- notably, not pointed in the direction of home bc, ahem, not the right bridle for that, thanks. Our familiar N bench was positioned nicely along that path after a little stream crossing and quick turn, and natch Charlie took that right out of stride. 

in schooling rides, i actually like finishing at what's typically the start
From there, we could cut back through an open gate the way we had come -- back into the front-most field where our xc courses typically start. 

Charlie has a lot of strong associations with this field so I generally don't linger there, but the typical positioning of jumps 1 and 2 is legit lovely -- with a nice log landing to gently rising ground, before a sudden steeper rise and boom, jump 2 is right there ready for ya!

this T cabin was placed on the top of the rise visible in the shot below, and was our final fence of the day
For the last couple years, jump 2 has been our farm's selection of ramps for all levels. This year tho, much of the course actually looks quite a bit different -- and now, we have houses! 

Charlie loves houses, obvi, so for our final fence of the day I aimed him for the T option (the same T house we jumped in our last school, pictured above), which naturally he stepped over easily. Good boy!

i like to imagine we looked like this lol <3 
My goals for the day were super simple: 
1) Keep my hands more forward and softer than they were at Thornridge; and
2) Get a quick refresher on jumping xc fences so we're ready for some exciting upcoming plans.

Because.... Well. It's hard to explain. I lost my mojo for full three phase events right now (hopefully a temporary feeling...). But I still like jumping cross country. And, ya know, my horse is a jumping machine. So we're looking for happy mediums. Maybe something.... derby-ish?? Stay tuned haha, we'll see. 

flashback cafe, bc it's my blog and my rules and my ridiculous jumping machine ottb <3
In the meantime, it felt really good to get out there for the quickest of rides -- 2 intro jumps, 2 BN, 3 N, and 1 T, plus a ditch and the water. Wham, bam, thank you, ma'am! And obviously Charlie strutted all the way home like the Champion he is. And then proceeded to be an absolute pest in the barn bc obviously champs rule the roost, duh lol..... Cocky Charlie is the most ridiculous, not gonna lie <3

And to be totally honest, this whole process of stepping back from a lot of the pressure I put on myself.... Focusing just on the stuff that I *wanna* do... It's all been so refreshing. And it legit seems like the horse is benefiting from my improved mindset. So we'll keep plugging along and see what happens! 


  1. Sounds like a fun day! I've been doing short and sweet schooling too (though, I'm a hunter weenie so I stay in the ring). It's definitely the better choice for Eros who will get ridiculously strong when he gets tired.
    Glad you and Charlie are still having a fun summer and doing the things you want to do!

    1. dude for real, charlie gets stronger as he tires too... it's a real balancing act lol!

  2. Love these flashback photos! <3 Sounds like a great ride :) Whisper is like Charlie - she gets grouchy too if she's given you right answers but you keep riding, so I'm a fan of the short rides, too!

    1. ha exactly! these horses can be so sassy lol.... i much prefer finishing a ride while charlie is marching around like a boss, vs going too far and having him feeling sour or burnt out

  3. Love these flashback photos! <3 Sounds like a great ride :) Whisper is like Charlie - she gets grouchy too if she's given you right answers but you keep riding, so I'm a fan of the short rides, too!

  4. Carmen too hates it when I keep asking the same questions. I either have to ‘hit it and quit it’ or mix it up a lot. I’m glad you and Charlie are having fun.

    1. it's so funny how similar Carmen and charlie are, even tho they react so differently to their feelings haha

  5. Your matching game on faces in the pictures are awesome!!

  6. Short and sweet is always good! Loved the pictures <3

  7. Yah do a Derby (I know you mean XC derby and not hunter derby but maybe do a hunter derby too lol) I am envious of your ability to just go jump some jumps at your property, even though you've lost your mojo for the full 3 phases it does seem like the autonomy is helping with the blahs, or at least relieves some pressure.


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